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Press Release

Paradigm Initiative Condemns Internet Disruption in Liberia

By | Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria

June 7 2019

 

It has come to the knowledge of Paradigm Initiative that popular social media platforms in Liberia such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked and cannot be accessed in Liberia.

Paradigm Initiative expressly condemns this act and declares that it is an affront to the freedom of expression and assembly amidst other civil liberties which belong to the citizens and residents of Liberia.

It is reported that the platforms have been blocked in reaction to the ongoing anti-government protests in the capital, Monrovia. The protests which have been tagged ‘Save The State’, were against the high inflation rates and corruption in the country.

Article 15 of the Liberia Constitution 1986 states that ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression…’ and the act of blocking access to the internet or to social media platforms for whatever reason is a gross violation of citizens’ freedom of expression.

The government of Liberia must be aware of the social, cultural, educative and economic value and relevance of the Internet. Business and human lives thrive not only on communication but on other benefits provided by social media platforms and the internet, and to block access to same is to act tyrant and disregard the liberties of the people. Grave and serious legal and historic impacts will be occasioned as a result of the action of the Liberia government.

With one irrational action, the government of Liberia has successfully abused its citizens and residents of their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the right to learn, their right to access the internet and other freedoms and liberties connected to the use of the internet.

We hereby call on the Liberian government to restore access to all disrupted Internet services, and uphold all human rights of its citizens.

For more information on this release, please contact Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer via media@paradigmhq.org

Paradigm Initiative condemns NBC’s violation of Press Freedom in Nigeria

By | Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria
June 7 2019

 

Paradigm Initiative vehemently condemns the action of the National Broadcasting Commission in stifling free expression and the freedom of the press by revoking the license of broadcasting channel, AIT/RayPower for clearly undemocratic reasons.

The NBC claims that its monitoring reports reveal that the Station is inundated with content of a divisive nature from bloggers and social media. But what the Commission fails to recognize and understand is that the Press has the freedom to report expressions by citizens, just the same way citizens have the freedom to express opinions – however controversial.

If a broadcasting channel raises an opinion expressed by a third party, reports on it and receives comments on same, such a broadcasting channel is well within its rights and duties. It is, therefore, unethical and clearly biased of the National Broadcasting Commission to revoke the license of AIT/RayPower on this ground.

The NBC states that it is disturbed with ‘the manner in which social media issues became part of the mainstream media unedited on AIT/RayPower…’ but the Commission should know that opinions of third parties cannot and should not be edited (at least in content) in reportage. The Commission’s concern is therefore antithetical to free speech.

In its most basic form, the freedom of expression and of the press in Nigeria allows for every person to be entitled to free expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

Expressions such as ‘Nigeria irritates me’ or ‘Nigeria is cursed’ may not be the most pleasant or agreeable expressions. But they remain opinions made by people within their rights. And what is a Broadcasting entity if it cannot report opinions, activities, or expression of citizens?

Paradigm Initiative wishes to inform the NBC that revoking the license of one of the few private mainstream broadcasting channels, and for muddy, unfounded and undemocratic reasons, is highly suggestive of bias by the Regulator. We, therefore, recommend that the Shut Down Order against AIT/RayPower and the suspension of the licence of Daar Communications be cancelled and the licence restored.

Les autorités du Cameroun doivent veiller au respect des droits du journaliste et lanceur d’alerte Paul Chouta

By | Press Release

Yaoundé 30 Mai 2019

 

Paradigm Initiative a appris avec beaucoup de regret la procédure arbitraire ayant conduit à l’arrestation et à la détention du lanceur d’alerte et journaliste Camerounais, Paul Chouta, le mardi 28 mai 2019.

Arrêté dans la nuit du mardi 28 mai 2019 au quartier Biyem-Assi  (Yaoundé) par six (06) policiers habillés en civil sur une plainte de l’écrivaine Callixte Beyala pour diffamation, le journaliste de l’un des sites d’information les plus  visités du pays, CamerounWeb, a été auditionné toute la journée d’hier mercredi et sera présenté devant la parquet le vendredi 31 mai 2019 selon la presse locale. Sa défense est assurée par Me Emmanuel Simh.

Paradigm Initiative souhaite porter à l’attention de l’opinion nationale et internationale que cette procédure d’arrestation qui s’apparente à un enlèvement est en violation des articles 31 et 118 (alinéas 1 et 2) du code de procédure pénale en vigueur au Cameroun.

Cette arrestation est par ailleurs, une atteinte grave à la liberté  d’expression en violation de la Constitution de 1996 et de la résolution adoptée en 2016 par la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (CADHP)  qui impose aux Etats de “respecter et protéger le droit des citoyens à la liberté d’information et d’expression par l’accès aux services de l’Internet”.

Nous appelons les autorités camerounaises aux respects des droits de M. Paul Chouta en tant que citoyen et journaliste ainsi qu’au respect des procédures prévues par la loi pour lui permettre de s’expliquer sur les accusations portées à son encontre.

 

A propos de Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative est une entreprise sociale qui favorise l’inclusion numérique par les TICs et défend les droits numériques afin d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des jeunes défavorisés. À travers nos bureaux au Nigéria (Aba, Abuja, Ajegunle, Kano et Yaba), au Cameroun, au Togo, en Zambie et en Tanzanie, nous travaillons au renforcement des droits numériques et à l’inclusion numérique en Afrique.

Guinée : Paradigm Initiative prévient le gouvernement des effets négatifs des coupures d’Internet

By | Press Release

Lomé, 30 Mai 2019

Paradigm Initiative est préoccupé par les dernières recommandations issues des ateliers régionaux préparatoires des examens nationaux session 2019 en Guinée qui préconisent l’interruption des réseaux sociaux durant plusieurs jours sur toute l’étendue du territoire.

La rencontre annuelle des cadres des structures centrales et déconcentrées, ainsi que des partenaires sociaux de l’éducation en marge des préparatifs des examens nationaux a préconisé entre autres mesures pour la tenue des examens de fin d’années dans de bonnes conditions, l’interruption des réseaux sociaux ( messenger, Imo, WhatsApp, Facebook, viber et Instagram ) de 9h à 16h jusqu’à la fin des évaluations.

Cette recommandation faite au ministre de l’enseignement par les participants de la rencontre annuelle tenue à Mamou risque de restreindre la liberté d’expression à des millions d’internautes guinéens en violation de la Constitution du pays ainsi qu’à la résolution adoptée en 2016 par la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuple (CADHP) dont le Guinée est Etat partie.

Au-delà, cette restriction pourrait avoir des répercussions économiques sérieuses sur l’économique guinéenne comme ce fut le cas dans d’autres pays comme la République Démocratique du Congo en 2017 ou au Tchad en 2016.

Les restrictions d’Internet observés dans ces pays ont occasionné des pertes estimées respectivement à 46 millions de dollars (environ plus de 27 milliards de FCFA) et à 18 millions d’euros (environ 13 milliards de FCFA).

Paradigm Initiative, exhorte les autorités guinéennes au respect des engagements juridiques auxquels elles ont souscrites en évitant une coupure d’Internet et/ou des réseaux sociaux qui serait à tous points préjudiciables au peuple guinéen.

A propos de Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative est une entreprise sociale qui favorise l’inclusion numérique par les TICs et défend les droits numériques afin d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des jeunes défavorisés. À travers nos bureaux au Nigéria (Aba, Abuja, Ajegunle, Kano et Yaba), au Cameroun, au Togo, en Zambie et en Tanzanie, nous travaillons au renforcement des droits numériques et à l’inclusion numérique en Afrique.

#DRIF19: Delegates Call for Renewed Action to Protect Digital Rights in Africa

By | Advocacy, Press Release

Delegates at the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum have expressed concern at the spate of violation of human rights online on the African continent, calling for renewed action to protect the digital space from rights violations.

The delegates were speaking at the 3-day Forum which held in Lagos, Nigeria, from April 23-25 and welcomed delegates and speakers from across Africa and beyond. The Forum provides a platform for conversations on efforts to ensure human rights online are not violated and that more people in Africa are connected to the internet.

Anriette Esterhuysen, the former executive director of the Association for Progressive Communications, in her submission, argued that the internet has to be protected and remain open as “it is the usually the only means of expression for some minority groups to access information on issues that are not openly discussed.”

Grace Githaiga, the co-convener of KICKTANET said, despite the challenges facing the digital rights space on the continent including internet shutdown, harassment of internet users and online journalists, and lack of data protection laws in many countries, “advocates should celebrate the positive- good laws, initiatives, and partners that allow us to meet and remaining optimistic of a better future.”

This came on the backdrop of conversation on internet censorship that has rocked the continent over the last few years. Africa now leads with the highest number of countries shutting down the internet or restricting service. In Chad, for example, social media has been shut down by the government for over a year now. In 2019 alone, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe and DR Congo have either shut down the internet or restricted access to services.

Speaking on the challenges facing efforts to improve internet penetration, Funke Opeke, the chief executive of MainOne Cable, emphasised the need for government to partner the private sector instead of constituting itself as a stumbling block to expand internet access. She said governments in other climes “create the right incentives and structures to facilitate access to the internet, especially in the rural areas. Dr Ernest Ndukwe, a former chief executive of the Nigerian Communication Commission, also urged civil society and active citizens “to focus more attention on what government can do to ensure people have access.”

The Forum also explored the state of data protection and privacy laws on the continent. Ephraim Kenyanito of Article 19 and Morisola Alaba of Media Rights Agenda, while speaking on the new 5G technology, said there was an urgent need to have data privacy legislation as the technology made its way to the continent, saying the technical capabilities of 5G could allow for greater surveillance capacities for repressive governments.

The tone for the Forum was set by the Opening Panel which was moderated by ‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative and featured Hawa Ba, the Head of Senegal Office of Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Segun Mausi, Head of Africa division at Human Rights Watch, and a Emmanuella Darkwah who was representing Ghana’s National Security Advisor.

The Panel explored the centrality of human rights to modern society and the need to dedicate resources and attention to the protection of human rights. Hawa Ba highlighted the crucial role the internet has played in public education and mobilisation in Senegal and said it was important to ensure the internet remained an open and safe platform. Mausi Segun said all internet users have a duty to fight for the protection of digital rights and to make sure their government enables internet access for more citizens.

While according to Ghana’s Emmanuella Darkwah, Ghana was working on “ensuring internet and digital rights are encompassed in future laws” and, to among things, “make internet shutdown impossible in the country.”

Delegates from

 Togo, Chad and Cameroon bemoaned the ease with which their governments shut down the internet and specific internet services. In Chad, a delegate reported, social media platforms have been unavailable for over a year now, making life unnecessarily harder for the people of the country.

In his closing remarks, ‘Gbenga Sesan urged delegates to go back to their countries with a renewed energy to contribute to efforts to keep the internet safe and open to all users, saying “digital rights advocates are in the business of not minding our businesses. We have no choice but to be involved in efforts that help protect the internet, and to resist action that endangers human rights online.”

#DRIF19 is the seventh edition of the Forum which is convened annually to provide an “important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped, and policy directions forged.” The Forum, organised by Paradigm Initiative and supported by Google, Ford Foundation, and Heinrich Böll Stiftung, welcomed delegates from 38 countries.

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

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 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.

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