A Zambian Army armored personnel carrier patrols the Chawama Compound in Lusaka on August 3, 2021, after President Edgar Lungu ordered the army to help police curb political violence in the run-up to the August 12 general election. CPJ called on Lungu to maintain internet access during the election period. (AFP/Salim Dawood)

CPJ joins call urging Zambia to maintain internet access during elections

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 41 other human rights, free expression, and technology organizations in a letter to Zambian President Edgar Lungu, calling on him to ensure that the internet and digital communications remain uninterrupted throughout Zambia’s August 12 general election period.

In the letter, dated August 5, members of the #KeepItOn coalition against internet shutdowns said that in the lead-up to the elections, authorities had already introduced a number of laws, including the Cybersecurity and Cyber Crimes Act, 2021, the Data Protection Act, 2021, and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2021,  that could enhance the government’s control of Zambia’s online civic space.

Among the letter’s recommendations, it urged Lungu to ensure “full internet access nationwide and refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook, and websites of media outlets throughout the election period and thereafter.”

The letter notes that following the 2016 general elections, local media outlets reported at least two days of internet shutdowns and slowdowns in parts of Zambia.

Read the full letter here.