The Ethiopian government has “systematically and illegally blocked access to social media and news websites,” including messaging app WhatsApp and 16 news outlets, according to a report released Wednesday by Amnesty International.
The interference, meant to “crush dissent” and prevent negative press, affected access to websites of independent news organizations and political opposition groups, among others, according to research by Amnesty and the Open Observatory of Network Interference.
“Our findings provide incontrovertible evidence of systematic interference with access to numerous websites,” Maria Xynou, of OONI, said in a news release.
“The internet blocking had no basis in law, and was another disproportionate and excessive response to the protests,” Michelle Kagari, a deputy regional director for human rights organisation Amnesty, said in the release.
“This raises serious concerns that overly broad censorship will become institutionalized under the state of emergency,” Kagari said.
The Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency on October 8, after weeks of anti-government protests and riots during which at least 50 people were killed in a stampede and more than 2,000 demonstrators were temporarily detained.
A report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists found Ethiopia to be one of the top five jailers of journalists around the world.