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Congo: #KeepItOn coalition calls on govt. and telcos to keep internet open & secure during March 2021 elections

#KeepItOn: Open letter to keep the internet open and secure during elections in the Republic of the Congo, 16 March 2021

Your Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo

CC: ... Moussa Ayham, Director General of MTN Congo; Alain Kahasha Ntumwa, Airtel Congo; Yves Castanou, Director General of Congo Telecom.

... We, the undersigned organizations and members of the #KeepItOn coalition... write to urgently appeal to you, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, to ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels are open, secure, and accessible throughout the election period, scheduled for March 17 and 21, in the Republic of Congo and thereafter.

... Internet shutdowns harm human rights, disrupt emergency services, and cripple economies

... Telecom companies must respect human rights

Telecom companies and businesses have a responsibility under the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises to respect human rights, prevent or mitigate potential harms, and provide remedy for harms they cause or contribute to. In the case of enterprises like Congo Telecom Limited with state investment, “states should take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that are owned or controlled by the State.”

Moreover, telecom service providers operating in Congo including MTN Congo and Airtel Congo have a responsibility to uphold and respect human rights by providing quality, open, and secure access to the internet and digital communication tools throughout the elections and beyond.

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