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End Internet Shutdowns During Exams For Good: #NoExamShutdown

From Algeria to Syria, governments have no right to prevent access to information for millions of students and beyond. Through the #NoExamShutdown campaign, Access Now, the Internet Society (ISOC), and SMEX are continuing the fight to end internet shutdowns during national secondary and high school exams in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, building on significant progress made in 2023.

“When you block access to the internet, you are blocking people from exercising their human rights. It's time to put an end to internet shutdowns during exams across the Middle East and North Africa for good,” said Kassem Mnejja, MENA Campaigner at Access Now. “The #NoExamShutdown campaign won’t stop fighting until the millions being targeted by internet blockings during national exams have open and uninterrupted access to the internet.”

For years, millions throughout the MENA region have endured annual internet shutdowns and disruptions. Governments in countries including Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria have on multiple occasions resorted to internet shutdowns during national exams, citing vague reasons such as “preventing cheating” or “stopping exam leaks.” These shutdowns, like all others, violate international human rights laws, lack justification, and fail to achieve their intended objective.

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“Placing an entire population in the dark to prevent a few students from cheating is a disproportionate policy that undermines the rights and freedoms of millions across the region," said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Director at Access Now. “Not only do internet shutdowns during exams violate international law, they’re simply ineffective. We call on governments in the region to end this practice and opt for right-respecting measures to secure national exams.”

The exam-related internet shutdowns not only affect crucial social, economic, and cultural activities, but also exacerbate extreme hardship and adversity due to conflict and repression.

Alarmingly, more and more countries, such as Kenya and India, appear to have been emboldened by the actions of governments in the MENA region, having recently decided to also cut off internet access during exam periods.

As the 2024 exam season in the region draws near, Access Now and the #NoExamShutdown campaign will continue to advocate for rights in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, pressuring governments to end all forms of communication blackouts during exams and beyond, seeking alternatives instead. Visit the #NoExamShutdown campaign page.

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