10th October, 2023;
All eyes are on Liberia today, 10th October 2023 as the general elections go on, we are concerned about the protection of human rights.
We note from the past that during the last general elections in 2019, access to social media and communication platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp was restricted across the country. This shutdown ultimately denied the citizens information and freedom of expression.
We remind the government of the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, information and assembly that are protected by Articles 15 and 17 of the Constitution of Liberia. in Article 13(2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. And urge the government to ensure fair and equitable access by contesting parties and candidates to state-controlled media during elections.
To the citizens, Paradigm Initiative remains committed to safeguarding, expanding, and developing internet freedom in Liberia. Towards this end, the organization has developed digital tools which can be accessed by members of the public to report digital rights violations before, during, and after elections. The organization’s platform known as Ripoti enables individuals across the region to report digital rights violations before, during, and after elections. On the other hand, PIN’s Toolkit known as Ayeta provides digital security tips for rights actors.
We are cognisant of the importance of a declaration of free and fair elections in any democratic society. To this end, we call for the conduct of elections that is in line with best practices of an enabling environment for all to vote.
We call on the following:
- The government must keep the internet on during elections and allow for access to information
- The government must educate and encourage the participation of vulnerable groups on the use, if any, of technology in the voting process
- The government must open up space for the media to perform their mandate
- The government must proactively disclose critical information to inform the electorate adequately in relation to the electoral process