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UN rights experts urge Cameroon to restore Internet to English-speaking population

[JURIST] A UN human rights expert on Fridayurged [press release] the Cameroonian government to restore Internet access to the country's English-speaking populations. In his statement, Special Rapporteur David Kaye called the delay in restoring Internet access, which has been cut-off since January 17, "an appalling violation of their right to freedom of expression." The network shutdown primarily affects the county's northwest and southwest provinces, where the population is predominantly English-speaking. Kaye calls the shutdown a violation of international law, after a joint resolution between the UN and regional experts in the field of freedom of expression said network shutdowns of this scale can "never be justified under human rights law." According to news outlets in neighboring Nigeria, the network shutdown is a response to protests [Pulse report] that have broken out following the arrest of two English-speaking Cameroonian activists. Protesters are calling for president Paul Biya's administration [official website] to do more to protect the rights of the English-speaking minority population.

In addition to the growing rift between the French and English speaking populations, Cameroon faces many problems resulting from their military conflict with the terrorist group Boko Haram. Last July Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] on numerous human rights violations by Cameroon authorities as the country fights the insurgency of the Islamic extremist group. Cameroon's harsh practices have come in response to atrocities committed by Boko Haram which, according to a report [JURIST report] last September by AI, is accountable for the death of at least 400 civilians in Northern Cameroon. The militant Islamic group Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin," has been fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government in the interest of creating an Islamist state.

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