A police officer is seen in Lome, Togo, on April 15, 2020. A regional court recently ruled that the country's 2017 internet shutdown violated citizens' rights. (Photo: AFP)

African regional court rules Togo 2017 internet shutdown was illegal

New York, June 25, 2020 — In response to the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice’s ruling today that Togolese authorities illegally shut down the country’s internet in September 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“Today’s court decision is a welcome reaffirmation that internet shutdowns pose a threat to press freedom and freedom of expression around the world, and authorities should pay a price for implementing them,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “Togolese authorities should respect this ruling and refrain from restricting internet access in the future.”

The court ordered the Togolese government to pay a fine and guarantee that it will implement safeguards to protect free expression, according to a report by digital rights group Access Now. In 2019, CPJ joined a group of civil society organizations in submitting an amicus brief to the court, asserting that the shutdown infringed on journalists’ ability to cover news in the country.