More than fifty human rights groups have written to the UN’s Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and human rights in Belarus over disruptions to the internet that took place during the presidential elections on 9 August 2020. During this day, internet access in Belarus was wholly or partly limited. The media and internet users reported limited or no access to YouTube, Viber, Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vkontakte. Independent experts reported that the network connectivity in Belarus was down to 20% from usual levels. The problems were encountered across all of the landline and mobile service providers.
Internet shutdowns breach international law. States should make sure that our rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and association are fully protected online as well as offline. In the letter, the groups urge the Rapporteurs to request information from the Belarusian government about the disruptions and how they will remedy this violation on international human rights law. They have also called for the Government to end this arbitrary interference with the right to freedom of expression online.
Read the full letter, detailing the full extent of the disruptions.