Senegal: CPJ condemns Uganda for blocking social media during voting

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Ugandan authorities for restricting access to social media as voters went to the polls in Thursday's presidential elections.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Friday, CPJ said Uganda Communications Commission cited an unspecified threat to national security to justify blocking access to Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp at around 8 a.m. local time, an hour after voting began.

It pointed out that access to the services remained blocked on mobile phones at 9:15 p.m. Ugandan time.

"These social media platforms are an important tool for gathering and publicizing news from around Uganda on polling day," remarked CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney.

"Closing them raises suspicions that any irregularities in voting may not be reported in a timely manner. Such censorship undermines the democratic process."

According to CPJ, the Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN), a leading provider of mobile-phone service in Uganda, said on Twitter that the commission had ordered it to disable all social media and mobile money-transferring services "due to a threat to public order and safety."

The statement added that it was not immediately clear if all mobile phone companies had complied with the order.

CPJ also quoted President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year tenure, in a televised address on Thursday about social media, saying, "some people misuse those pathways. You know how they use them --- telling lies. If you want a right, use it properly."

Meanwhile, CPJ said it had documented a series of repressive measures against the media in the weeks ahead of the elections, including physical attacks on journalists, the closure of radio stations, and the arrest of a radio talk show host in the middle of his broadcast.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 19Feb2016

19 february 2016 12:25:29

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