Judge of Zimbabwe’s High Court, Justice Owen Tuga has ruled that the Internet and social media shutdowns in Zimbabwe were illegal.
The court ruled in favour of the advocacy groups in their lawsuit against the Zimbabwean government. Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe unit of the Media Institute of Southern Africa had earlier dragged the government to court.
The groups argued that the country’s Minister of State did not have the authority to issue any directives under the Interception of Communications Act (PDF) to shut down the Internet or block access to social media.
It was also argued that the internet blockade was a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights including access to information. Apparently, it’s only the president that can issue such a directive.
These days, Internet shutdowns are often used by African governments to suppress the citizens’ free expression, but this is doing more damage to businesses as well.