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Khartoum court rules end to Sudan's internet blackout

November 9 - 2021 KHARTOUM
File photo
File photo

A court in Khartoum has ordered Sudan’s main internet and telecoms providers to restore internet access and end the blockade that has shut down most data traffic in the country since the military coup led by Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan seized power on October 25.

Ruling on a lawsuit brought on behalf of the Sudanese Consumer Protection Society this morning, the judge ordered MTN, Zain, and Sudani, the country’s major providers, to restore their services. The ongoing internet shut down and disruptions to telecommunications have lasted 16 days. Critics and activists caution that the blackout is being used as a smokescreen to hide atrocities committed by the army and paramilitary forces in support of the military coup.

At a press conference at the offices of the Consumer Protection Society following the ruling today, lawyer Abdelazim Hasan, who raised the complaint on the society’s behalf said that he and a group of lawyers will work on issuing criminal cases and arrest warrants against the directors of the companies on Wednesday if the internet is not restored. He called on the Sudanese public to join a lawsuit demanding compensation for the internet outage.

Journalists confirmed that internet service was restored to the director of the Sudanese Consumer Protection Association, Yasir Mirghani, and seven other numbers

Mirghani pointed out that in their pleadings, the companies said that the blackout began when armed military personnel entered the control rooms and ordered the internet to be cut off. He condemned this as “unacceptable behaviour” and stressed that the society will demand accountability.

As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, the Sudanese Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR) called on the authorities in Sudan to restore full and uncompromised internet services, as it is one of the means that underpins the public’s the right to know the truth and the right to information.

Human rights defender Ali Ajab told Radio Dabanga that “cutting off the internet aims to hide the crimes of the Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces,” and that if the internet service is restored, “the world will witness the extent of the atrocities committed by these forces against peaceful and defenceless demonstrators”.

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