The Ethiopian Media Council (EMC) has urged authorities to lift the internet service restrictions, claiming that it prevents media outlets from informing the public and interferes with their day-to-day operations.
For the past three weeks, the government has blocked internet connectivity, barring users from accessing social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube.
Given media outlets’ reliance on the internet to reach out to both local and global audiences, the restriction has been an impediment for the media, according to the Council, which said that it has received multiple complaints from its members over the restriction.
With the mass media proclamation permitting registered media outlets to utilize social media accounts without restriction, the Council stated in a statement made on March 1, 2023, that no restrictions should be enforced as long as they work under journalistic ethics.
The internet service restriction is thought to be related to the public outrage that developed as a result of a schism within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which was subsequently resolved after mediation by elders and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD).
The government has provided no explanation for why the restriction has been imposed thus far.
“The restriction is not justifiable,” the Council said, adding that “the government can take action against individuals responsible for instigating violence on social media rather than imposing blanket restrictions on everyone.”
The Council is not the only institution that has requested that the restriction be lifted.
Daniel Bekele, the commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), called for the lifting of restrictions on several platforms in Ethiopia, including Facebook and YouTube, in a tweet last week.
“Restrictions on the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media should be an exception, legitimate, necessary, and proportional,” he wrote.
According to a Top10VPN survey, businesses in Ethiopia lost USD 145.8 million due to an internet outage in Tigray last year.