Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has advised the federal government to withdraw its threats of attacks against social media, as “any such threat can only continue to strangle freedom of expression and limit the accountability of government.”
This came in a statement, Monday, by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, as the world marks the International Right to Know Day, the organisation stated that, “The 2011 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression has underscored the importance of freedom of expression on the Internet, and urged governments not to arbitrarily restrict this right.”
The organization said: “The call by government officials for censorship of social media is entirely unnecessary as social media has played an important role in educating the ordinary citizens about the performance of their governments, and on issues of transparency and accountability.
It will be recalled that the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, had last Friday claimed that social media community “are publishing reports capable of undermining military strategy against extremists, and stir mutiny within the military.”
But SERAP said, “Social media are important to the work of human rights defenders everywhere. Any attempt to undermine this work will be resisted by civil society through national and international legal actions.”
SERAP added: “Freedom of expression on the Internet is a fundamental freedom. It is absolutely crucial to citizens’ rights to communicate and associate, and to the enjoyment of their other human rights, including the right to know how their governments are run, and to hold their leaders accountable .”
The organisation also stated that: “The threats against the social media such as Premium Times and Sahara Reporters patently offend the constitution and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments. Any arbitrary restrictions to freedom of expression including on the Internet through social media will be unnecessary in a democratic society, and clearly inconsistent with the conduct of a government reputed to have passed the Freedom of Information Act.”
“Rather than equating the role of social media in promoting transparency, accountability, and the rule of law to incitement to violence, any serious and people-oriented government should actually work to promote it,” SERAP said.