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Paradigm Initiative Condemns the Arrest and Deportation of Wakabi by Tanzanian Authorities

By | Press Release, Uncategorized

Paradigm Initiative condemns the arrest, detention and subsequent deportation of the executive director of the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Dr Wairagala Wakabi by Tanzanian authorities.

Dr Wakabi was arrested, detained and detained upon arrival in Tanzania yesterday, April 25. According to a statement released by CIPESA, Dr Wakabi was in Tanzania to participate in the annual commemoration of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Day on the invitation of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC). Dr Wakabi is a renowned human rights advocate and researcher and we believe that his unacceptable treatment in Tanzania is a further indication of Tanzania’s increasingly hostile attitude to the human rights community.

This is not the first time that Tanzania has mistreated human rights advocates. In November 2018, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists Africa program coordinator Angela Quintal and sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumowere were arrested, detained and deported from the country with the false claim that the duo were in Tanzania without proper visas. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) had previously expressed concern over the arrest of other 11 human rights activists in Tanzania. Tanzanian police have accused of raiding a legal consultation meeting, convened by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (Isla) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (Chesa), in Dar es Salaam. 

The continued assault on activists and advocates is unacceptable and we call on the African Union and other regional bodies to prevail on the Tanzanian government to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens and guests. Paradigm Initiative asks the government to immediately address its shameful treatment of Dr Wakabi. It is in the government’s own best interest to acknowledge human rights defenders as viable stakeholders in democratic spaces and that civic spaces are a natural extension of the community that must be nurtured not crushed.

Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum to Host Delegates from 38 Countries in Lagos

By | Digital Rights, Press Release

The seventh edition of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) will host delegates from 38 countries to deliberate on issues confronting the digital space in Africa. This is according to a press statement by Paradigm Initiative, the organiser of the conference of the 3-day conference. The Forum took off today in Lagos and will run until Thursday, April 25.

According to the statement, DRIF19 will welcome delegates from civil society, academia, media, technical community, government- including security agencies, judiciary, and legislature, and the private sector, from 32 countries in Africa, and 6 countries outside the continent. The Forum will also be live-streamed to a global online audience here, while those interested in monitoring conversations at the Forum can follow its hashtag, #DRIF19.

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “formerly known as the Internet Freedom Forum, DRIF has become well known for its track record of tangible actionable outcomes and has gained a reputation as an important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped, and policy directions forged. The broad categories of participants expected are state actors, civil society organizations, academia, human rights activists, technology entrepreneurs, gender activists, as well as policy enthusiasts and actors within the global internet governance space.”

DRIF features engaging conversations which draw on globally relevant issues, as well as Africa-specific challenges and opportunities. Panellists and participants are drawn based on a multi-stakeholder model, allowing stakeholders who have hitherto operated in silos to talk to one other about common challenges.

“For the first time, the Forum this year will focus considerably on digital inclusion conversations as the basis for digital rights, on a continent where internet penetration is lowest and the opportunities which ICTs provide remain elusive to many. This year’s edition will also feature more side sessions, allow for bilingual communication and participation as it has done since 2017, and encourage post-event collaborations to further strengthen the discourse of Internet Freedom in Africa,” Ogundipe added.

Speakers expected at the conference include Albert Antwi Boasiako, Ghana’s National Cybersecurity Advisor, Segun Mausi, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Africa Division, Hawa Ba, Head of the Senegal Country Office, Open Society for West Africa, and Lanre Osibona, Special Advisor on ICT to the President of Nigeria. Others are Dr Ernest Ndukwe, former Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Robert Muthuri of Strathmore University, and Onica Makwakwa, A4AI Africa Regional Coordinator

The Forum is expected to refocus attention on issues confronting the digital space on a continent where human rights online are routinely violated.

Paradigm Initiative Praises the Media for Improved Digital Rights Coverage

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Media coverage of issues confronting digital rights and online freedom has significantly improved over the last year as more media platforms and practitioners dedicate more attention to developments in the digital space. This is according to Paradigm Initiative, the pan-African digital rights and inclusion social enterprise.

Paradigm Initiative made this known in a press statement announcing the commencement of application for the second edition of its Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship.

Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer Sodiq Alabi said, “The media has become a major partner in the efforts to ensure that human rights online are protected in Africa. As media practitioners are usually victims of digital rights violations including censorship, harassment and illegal surveillance, it makes perfect sense that they are now focusing their attention on increasing awareness around digital rights and holding governments and businesses accountable. ”

Paradigm Initiative further emphasised the need for improved synergy between digital rights advocates and the media to ensure human rights online are well protected by the law, and violations do not go unreported.

“The Media Fellowship is part of our effort to ensure this synergy is groomed and nurtured. The Fellowship is, therefore, a 4-month program designed to immerse outstanding, early career, journalists in digital rights and digital inclusion advocacy – and intervention efforts – in Africa. This way, we help improve the quality of reporting on digital rights and inclusion by improving the expertise of reporters who cover the beat,” Alabi said.

Meanwhile, the 7th Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum is scheduled to hold in Lagos. Convened by Paradigm Initiative, the Forum will host some 300 delegates from across Africa and the world. The delegates will, between April 23 and 25, assess the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa with the aim of finding solutions to identified challenges.

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For more information on this statement, please send a mail to media@paradigmhq.org

Paradigm Initiative Organises Free Programming Training for Undergraduate

By | Coding, Techtiary

Paradigm Initiative has unveiled a tuition-free program to empower undergraduates with Python programming skills. The first edition of the training took off last Saturday with 36 trainees from three higher institutions in Lagos, namely the University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology and Lagos State University.

Paradigm Initiative, the pan-African social enterprise working on digital rights and digital inclusion, is organising the training in conjunction with the Python Nigeria group who are providing faculty members for the training.

According to Olayinka Taiwo, the Techtiary Program Officer, “We are pleased to welcome 36 students to the first edition of this important training program. 12 students will be trained on Python for Data Science while 24 undergraduates will be trained on Python for Web. The training is under our Techtiary program which is dedicated to helping undergraduates acquire technical expertise before they graduate.”

“By learning Python, beneficiaries can position themselves for various opportunities in the ever-expanding information communication technology space. Python has been lauded as one of the most lucrative programming languages to learn and its applications are wide-ranging. With the faculty support from the good people of Python Nigeria, we are excited to be introducing this language to more young Nigerians,” Olayinka added.

 

Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship 2019

By | Uncategorized

The application process is now open for the second edition of the Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship.

The Fellowship is a 4-month program designed to immerse outstanding, early career, journalists in digital rights and digital inclusion advocacy – and intervention efforts – in Africa. Selected journalists will work with Paradigm Initiative on various projects and contribute to improving public understanding of digital rights and inclusion issues. In 2018, Nigeria’s Victor Ekwealor (Techpoint) and Togo’s Emmanuel Vitus (GhanaWeb) emerged as the pioneer fellows. In 2019, we plan to select three fellows.

Components of the Fellowship

  • 2-day Orientation and Digital Rights/Inclusion training
  • 2-week residency at Paradigm Initiative’s offices in Nigeria. The Fellow will spend time at the Yaba HQ, Aba LIFE Centre, Abuja office, Ajegunle LIFE Centre and Kano LIFE Centre
  • 4-month virtual collaboration with Paradigm Initiative
  • Fellowship may also include fully-funded local and international travels to participate in and cover relevant events
  • Interaction with leading stakeholders in digital rights advocacy

Expectations

  • Fellows will be expected to participate in all scheduled activities
  • Fellows will be expected to publish, in their affiliated newspapers or magazines, at least twelve reports on digital rights and inclusion issues during the fellowship period. Fellows will retain full editorial direction on the stories
  • Fellows will be expected to continue to provide coverage to digital rights and inclusion issues after their fellowshipParadigm Initiative will provide fellows with a monthly stipend, and a one-time research grant, during the fellowship period

Who can apply?

  • The Fellowship is open to journalists affiliated with mainstream print and online newspapers in Africa
  • We are especially interested in women journalists
  • Interested candidates must demonstrate previous coverage of human rights and/or tech issues and interest in advocacy journalism
  • Interested candidates must not have spent more than ten years in journalism. We are most interested in outstanding, early career journalists

How to apply

Fill the application form here: http://bit.ly/PImf2019

Deadline: May 6, 2019.

Fellowship will run from July to October 2019.

Paradigm Initiative Asks Rwanda to Respect Privacy Rights  

By | Press Release

The government of Rwanda has recently proposed a country-wide DNA database, a project that will involve collecting samples from all 12 million citizens in an effort to address crime. This has prompted concerns from human rights campaigners who believe the database could be misused by the government and violate international human rights laws. While the country poses a data protection policy, it is still very vague and not comprehensive enough to tackle the challenges that come with having such a database.

The government of Rwanda should realize that “genome is the property of an individual and not the state’s” hence policies they put forth to govern this move should grant citizens consent on what data they choose to share under very strict circumstances. DNA sample contains very personal information hence the risk of data abuse is potentially high as well as vulnerability to hacking.

Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy Fellow for Eastern Africa, Rebecca Ryakitimbo said, “It is debatable whether the benefits to society of having a national DNA database outweighs an individual’s right to privacy. There is a need to answer critical questions such as ”Who owns the genetic information and who controls what happens to it and how it is used? Who is responsible for the genetic information”.The potential for the information in the DNA database to be misused by the Government, security services, police forces or criminals is quite high if these questions are not attended to.”

Drawing experiences from countries like the UK which has a National DNA Database (NDNAD)  that holds the DNA profiles and samples from a select number of UK individuals. The implications of this database to innocent citizens who were on the database brought about privacy and other human rights concerns. It was in the light of this that in 2012, the UK Protection of Freedoms Bill came to effect to redress the balance between the State’s duty to protect the public and an individual’s right to privacy. This brought about the taking down of 1,766,000 DNA profiles taken from innocent adults and children, along with 1,672,000 fingerprint records. In addition to this,  7,753,000 DNA samples including 480,000 from children that contained sensitive personal biological data were destroyed.

Paradigm Initiative further said “Rwandan legislators, courts and law enforcement to ensure that the benefits of the database don’t come at the cost of privacy rights. It also essential to recognize that people do have an interest in controlling who can see their private information. The Government of Rwanda should foresee the risks that accompany the presence of such an extensive database containing very private and personal data of millions of its citizens in the age where digital security is of great concern. With the use of DNA data for policing, there will be risks on the burden of proof required for the forensic acceptability of DNA data.”

For more information on this release, please send a mail to media@paradigmhq.org. 

Groups Sue Gbenga Olorunpomi and Lauretta Onochie Over “Hate Speech”

By | Press Release, Uncategorized

Two Civil Society organizations, Enough is Enough Nigeria and Paradigm Initiative have instituted a case asking the court to declare comments made by some political aides in Nigeria as Hate speeches.

Relying on documentary evidences gathered from online comments made by the two affected aides, Gbenga Olorunpomi, Aide to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Lauretta Onochie, Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, the organizations through their lawyer are asking the court to determine if the statements violates sections of Nigeria’s Cybercrime(Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015 .

However, due to the elusiveness of the Defendants and their addresses, the Court favoured that the court processes should be advertised in national dailies. This was subsequently done on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 in two leading National Dailies with national spread

According to Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, “the two organizations filed the case as a measure to curb the spread of hate speeches in Nigeria, a trend which is mostly associated with the political class. While their principals may not be less guilty of similar accusations, Governors and Presidents are however protected from prosecution by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. It is, however, significant that those political actors with links to power are being challenged for comments made at several times. The usual trend in Nigeria was for the political class to use their position to persecute citizens, journalists, activists and opposition whom they deem too critical of power under the guise of fighting hate speech or fake news.”

“If hate speech is to be curbed in Nigeria, then the prosecution must start from the political class who has always gotten away with inciting statements some of whom have led to crisis and deaths of many in the past.” Says Adeboye

The case is expected to come up for hearing at the Federal High Court Abuja today, Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Mr President, It’s time to sign the Digital Rights Bill

By | Uncategorized

By Sodiq Alabi

 When the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill (HB490) was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 4, many Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief. The digital rights advocacy community across the globe was ecstatic, and understandably so. The Bill is the first law dedicated to protecting digital rights and online freedom anywhere in Africa. If signed, the Bill will catapult Nigeria to the comity of nations leading the charge for the protection of digital rights and online freedom. Key amongst its provisions are the provisions on data privacy, free speech, press freedom, lawful interception and surveillance. 

The Bill has had a long journey to getting to the President’s table. First proposed and extensively discussed within the civil society and rights advocacy community during the 2014 Internet Freedom Forum hosted by Paradigm Initiative, it was not until 2016 before the Bill was tabled before the House of Representatives thanks to an exemplary civil society-legislature collaboration. Sponsored by Hon. Chukwuemeka Ujam, the Bill spent almost two years in the House before it was passed in December 2017.

When the Senate concurred with its sister-chamber in March 2018, supporters of the Bill assumed the Bill’s legislative journey had ended. Unfortunately, the Bill remained with the National Assembly for another eight months without its transmission to the president. Apparently, the National Assembly’s legal unit had flagged a problem in one of its clauses, therefore leading to another round of the legislative process. The affected clause was corrected and the revised Bill was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly in November and December 2018. Two months later, on February 4, 2018, the Bill was sent to the president for his assent as required by the constitution.

The constitution also requires the president to assent or decline assent to a bill within thirty days of receiving the bill from the legislature. We are now roughly two weeks from the end of this countdown. While the nation is engulfed in organising federal and state elections, it is crucial that important government business like the signing of a crucial piece of legislation does not suffer as a result. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari and his staffers to find the time, in between preparations for the elections, to study the Bill and have it signed before the deadline. This would be a commendable demonstration of the robustness of our presidential system and its ability to keep the country running even in the face of a crucial election for its leader.

As Paradigm Initiative, the group that leads the advocacy for the passage of the Bill said in a statement, President Buhari has a history of signing forward-looking Bills including the #NotTooYoungToRun and the Disability Bill. The Digital Rights Bill falls into this category of Bills as it provides clear legal backing for online freedom and digital rights in an era when the digital space has become central to life. Paradigm Initiative’s Adeboye Adegoke is therefore right when he said, “If signed, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill will add to what appears to be a forward-looking disposition of the administration to policymaking. What President Muhammadu Buhari does with the Bill will go a long way to define the administration’s disposition towards technology and its viability in improving the economic base of Nigeria.”

The last few years have seen tens of millions of people connected to the internet in the country. These people conduct business, have a social life, learn and teach via this important tool. They even campaign for political candidates and are campaigning to via the internet. However, despite the deployment of the internet across the country, Nigeria, unfortunately, lacks a comprehensive legal framework that protects human rights online, a situation that makes Nigerians online vulnerable to rights abuse. It is therefore easy to agree with Web Foundation when they declared that, “Nigerians cannot wait any longer for digital rights, freedoms and opportunities. The President’s Assent is urgently needed to secure fundamental rights, to support a stronger digital economy, and to build a more secure internet.”

Digital rights are human rights and by signing the Digital Rights Bill into law, President Muhammadu Buhari would give much-needed protection to these crucial rights. It is time to make history, Mr President.

Sodiq Alabi leads communications at Paradigm Initiative.

Leveraging the Gains of Multi-stakeholder Process to Cybersecurity Policy

By | Uncategorized

By Boye Adegoke

Cybersecurity is a big and important subject all over the world. In Nigeria, the work became cut out as Nigeria grappled with the scourge of Cybercriminals popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo at the turn of the Millennium. While the innovations that gave the world the likes of Facebook, Google, Apple, Huawei and other forms of innovative technology were being celebrated all over the world, Nigeria was grappling with managing its image as it appears many young people in Nigeria have sadly embraced the negative side of technology and are becoming renowned worldwide as cybercriminals. The damage done is yet to be fully salvaged. According to a 2018 Nigeria Cybersecurity Outlook released by Deloitte, “Social engineering attacks conducted via emails, SMS and calls still the number one threat being faced in Nigeria as at today. Also, it is not enough to just know more about   trends or attacks, it is about putting the right measures in place so as to be better prepared to defend against them”

Nigeria has since taken many steps to address the scourge by aligning with other efforts globally such as establishing the Computer Emergency Response Teams known as NG Certs. In February 2015, the Government adopted the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy prepared by the Inter-Ministerial Committee coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser. A few months later, Nigeria passed the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015 which entered into force on 15th May 2015. The purpose of the Act is also to promote cybersecurity and cybercrime prevention, and it provides for obligations to the private sector. Many stakeholders especially from civil society have criticized this law and are seeking judicial intervention to dislodge some parts of the law which are deemed non-right respecting. Also, there is an ongoing process to repeal and re-enact this law by the Legislative Arm of the Nigerian Government. The ongoing process is also being criticized as non-transparent because many stakeholders feel left out. The need for effective cross-stakeholder collaboration is widely recognized, as required in cybersecurity policy formulation process, with numerous international instruments reinforcing the message.

What’s clear about Nigeria’s approach is that it has been largely driven by concerns around security issues as well as implications for National security and business. Meanwhile, Cybersecurity has relevance to individual users as much as it does for Nations and businesses. This is why greater stakeholder involvement in cybersecurity policy development process is very important. Civil society concerns have usually been around how human rights concerns are often jettisoned or deemed inconsequential in cybersecurity policy development. Internet security threats are complex, and they affect multiple stakeholders, therefore, they require coordinated efforts to be adequately addressed. Constitutionally guaranteed rights must be respected in the cyberspace i.e. the rights that apply offline must also apply online. From an individual perspective, cybersecurity isn’t limited to freedom from cyberattacks but includes the right to privacy, right to freedom expression and protection of personal data; communication etc. this hardly makes it into the country’s cybersecurity agenda. This disregard for human rights may not be unconnected with the gaps that exist in the composition or the stakeholder mapping that currently exists.

The Important role that all stakeholders have to play in ensuring that the governance of cyberspace remains open, inclusive, and sufficiently flexible to adapt itself to changing risks and challenges must be emphasized. Users are increasingly distrustful of the internet, and that poses a challenge to its future. “Users’ trust is at the core Internet-driven business landscape. Immediate steps to enhance users trust must be taken. Governments must ensure that users trust is not broken online by ensuring there’s a transparent and multi-stakeholder approach to the development of cybersecurity policies and strategies. A truly multistakeholder approach to National Cybersecurity Strategy Development is poised to address this gap drawing on real-life examples of good practices in other climes. Governments, including military and intelligence sectors, could benefit from increasing their awareness of the multistakeholder nature of the Internet and the vital importance of cooperation with other stakeholders to address security threats.

In conclusion, we must move away from paying lip-service to the idea of a multistakeholder approach to cybersecurity policy development process. There must be a genuine effort to make the process inclusive to capture different stakeholder group who are affected and can bring invaluable insight to the process.  The more robust the inputs and the process is, the better the outputs. It must be noted however that the multi-Stakeholder approach is not a kill switch that addresses all the problems in a swipe; it is, however, a fundamental approach that is able to give all stakeholders a sense of belonging and gives an opportunity to capture nuances, local context into the process; The approach is widely accepted as the optimal way to make policy decisions for a globally distributed network. The United Nations Internet Governance Forum embraces multistakeholder approach model and the model has also been adopted by a growing number of international organizations. The model will help to create a veritable platform for a multi-stakeholder conversation, knowledge sharing and learning in Nigeria around cybersecurity policy development and implementation.

 

Adeboye Adegoke (@adeboyeBGO) is Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager for Anglophone West Africa.

Paradigm Initiative Releases 2018 Annual Report, Demonstrates Impact

By | Digital Rights, Echoes From Life, Press Release

The social enterprise, Paradigm Initiative has released its 2018 annual report. The report provides insight into the work of the organisation, especially in how it lives up to its mission of improving the “livelihoods of underserved youths”.

Featured in the annual report is Joy Ukpong, an alumna of the group’s free digital inclusion program. At the time of joining the program, 27-year old Joy Ukpong’s income was N10,000 a month as a  struggling hairdresser in Ajegunle, Lagos. She was desperate for a break, and Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Inclusion program gave her the break which she wisely seized, learning relevant digital and life skills.

Few weeks after the conclusion of the 10-week training, Ukpong got a job as an administrative assistant at a law firm. Her income immediately jumped to N25,000. Thanks to her new skills, Ukpong has a more stable income and work structure that allows her to develop herself.

Her story, according to Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer, Sodiq Alabi, “is another proof that our investment in digital inclusion programs in underserved communities is indeed improving the livelihood of the beneficiaries.”

The Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan also said, “As a result of the year’s investment in under-served Nigerian youth, we were able to train 869 students through the 10-week LIFE program, LIFE@School Club and the quarterly workshops. 150 students got internships, picked up jobs, earned enough to return to school, joined apprenticeship programs and/or started micro businesses. During the year, the average income among our students grew from N4,805.15 to N23,083.25!”

Highlighting the group’s work in digital rights, Sesan said “In 2018, our Digital Rights work covered Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. We hosted 13 training programs, reviewed 36 policy documents, produced 12 research-based reports, acted on 20 digital rights violations, and led 4 litigation processes.”

The Director of Programs, Tope Ogundipe said the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria is an important milestone for the group in 2018. The Bill, which was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 5 2019, has been a major project of the group since 2014 when it began advocacy for the passage of a law dedicated to the protection of online rights and freedoms.

Paradigm Initiative, which was founded in Nigeria in 2007, is physically present in five African countries, from where it executes programs across the continent.  The group said its new Strategic Management Plan (2019-2023) would even see it do more over the next few years.

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