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Cameroon govt sued over internet shutdown in Anglophone regions.

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The Cameroonian government has been hurled before the country’s top court over the imposition of an internet blackout on the restive Anglophone regions.

Two net freedom groups, Access Now and Internet Sans Frontieres (ISF) on January 19, intervened in a lawsuit “challenging a government-ordered shutdown in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions last year.

“We are providing expert advice on requirements under international human rights law and urging the court to end the shutdowns for good, a statement by Access Now said.

The two groups come under the banner of #KeepItOn coalition and have been documenting the cost of internet shutdowns. They are joining two earlier actions instituted in April 2017 seeking to have judicial pronouncement on the shutdown.

In the 2017 papers, the Cameroon government, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication and the sector agency Cameroon Telecommunication (CAMTEL) are listed as respondents. There are five petitioners including the Global Conscience Initiative and Global Links.

The government on September 30, 2017 placed restrictions on access to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and whatsapp.

This was despite a government statement saying that no such plans were to be implemented. Activists doing a count say Thursday January 25, 2018; is the 118th day of shutdown.

September 30 was the eve of a symbolic declaration of independence by the two Anglophone regions under the Ambazonia State banner. At the time a heavy security deployment across the regions was also in place, subsequent clashes between separatists and security forces lead to deaths, injuries and mass arrests.

It was, however, not the first such disruption in the Central African nation, an earlier one was a total blackout in the northwest and southwest regions. It was only lifted in April 2017 after over three months.

Cameroon’s courts have the opportunity to set a global precedent in favor of human rights and the rule of law,” said Peter Micek, General Counsel of Access Now.

“By declaring the government’s shutdown order a discriminatory, unnecessary, and disproportionate decree, issued under flawed procedures, the court can provide remedy to Cameroonians and light a path for victims of shutdowns elsewhere.”

“A decision by Cameroon’s Constitutional Council to reaffirm the protection of Human Rights, and rule on the illegality of shutdowns, would send a historic and powerful signal to other countries of the Central Africa region,” said Julie Owono, Executive Director of Internet San Frontieres.

Between 2016 and 2017, most countries in the region arbitrarily used internet shutdowns for political reasons.

Motherland News

Families Identify Church Collapse Victims in Anguish

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Tears and anguish characterized the atmosphere as the grieving families of 13 worshipers killed in a church collapse arrived at the Richards Bay mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The worshipers died when a wall collapsed at the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday night.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department co-ordinated with various departments including health, home affairs and the police, to assist in speeding up the body identification process.

Six worshippers were from Ulundi, four from eSikhawini and three from Maqwakazi in uMlalazi.

Describing the collapse, Phumelele Simelane from eSikhawini said worshippers had just had their evening meal and were preparing to sleep when the wall caved in.

Simelane was with her 6-year-old son, who is recovering in hospital. She said she came to the mortuary to support congregants whose relatives died.

The Mthembu family, who lost grandmother Thembi Mthabela, 54, and Andiswa Mthembu, 10, in the tragedy were overcome with grief.

“Thembi loved going to church and she always took Andiswa with her. Andiswa was doing Grade 3 at Nyathini Primary School. As a family, we are very traumatised and it is hard for us,” said a relative, who did not wanted to be named.

Buhle Mzila, whose sister Samke, 33, died, said the family had lost a breadwinner.

Samke, who worked at the Ulundi Municipality, was with her 9-year-old daughter during the incident.

Buhle said her niece, who was in hospital, was in a state of shock about her mother’s death.

“Samke loved the church, she always made sure she attended every service. She played a big role in terms of assisting the family. We are still going to feel her absence,” said Buhle.

A sobbing Mbongeni Langa said his mother had died in a “place she loved”.

The memorial service will be held tomorrow

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Motherland News

CAF Sidelines Nigerian Centre Referees for 2019 AFCON

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Out of the Twenty-seven centre referees penciled down for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, countries like Burundi, Mali, Zambia and Sudan are represented on the list, but no Nigerian referee was selected for the big occasions.

However, only one assistant referee from Nigeria named Baba Adel was listed among the twenty-nine assistant referees selected by the African Football Governing Body.

The competition will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017.

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