Gambia: Communication blackout shatters illusion of freedom during the election

In response to blocks on the internet and other communications networks in Gambia amid today’s presidential election, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa said:

“This is an unjustified and crude attack on the right to freedom of expression in Gambia, with mobile internet services and text messaging cut off on polling day.”

“Shutting down these communication networks shatters the illusion of freedom that had emerged during the two weeks period of the electoral campaign, when restrictions appeared to have been eased. This alarming move suggests a return to repression and censorship that has been the hallmark of President Jammeh’s 22-year rule.”

Shutting down these communication networks shatters the illusion of freedom that had emerged during the two weeks period of the electoral campaign
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns

“Blocks on the internet and other communications networks amount to a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online."

Background

The election features three candidates – President Yahya Jammeh (APRC – Alliance for Patriotic Reconstruction and Construction), Adama Barrow (Coalition 2016 - a coalition of opposition parties) and Mama Kandeh (GDC – Gambian Democratic Congress) – in an election that will be won by whoever gains the most votes on 1 December. There is no second round and results are expected on 2 December.