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Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa 2020 (FIFAfrica20) to be hosted by CIPESA & Paradigm Initiative

By | Press Release

On September 28-30, 2020, the seventh edition of the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) will be co-hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and Paradigm Initiative (PIN). This landmark event convenes a spectrum of stakeholders from across the internet governance and digital rights arenas in Africa and beyond to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for advancing privacy, free expression, non-discrimination and the free flow of information online.

The CIPESA-Paradigm Initiative partnership on FIFAfrica20 builds on the two organisations’ longstanding commitment to advance digital rights in Africa.  It echoes the joint vision of a continent that respects, protects and promotes digital rights and strives to ensure that no one is digitally left behind.

In light of the current Covid-19 reality, FIFAfrica20 will adopt a hybrid approach which blends online and physical interactions. Over the course of three days, the FIFAfrica20 agenda will feature physical and virtual engagements, including satellite events in select countries, virtual sessions, and pre-recorded content. All interactions will maintain national Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Meanwhile, web streaming and social media will be utilised to reach and engage disparate audiences keen on participating in the Forum.

These measures will support FIFAfrica in continuing to be a platform where the rising challenges to the enjoyment of internet freedom in various African countries, including arrests and intimidation of online users, internet disruptions, and a proliferation of laws and regulations that undermine the potential of digital technology to drive socio-economic and political development, can be deliberated upon amongst a wide array of stakeholders.

Indeed, as the coronavirus continues to spread globally, various African governments have imposed sweeping measures such as travel bans, curfews, prohibition of mass gatherings, mandatory quarantines, closure of learning institutions, entertainment spots and borders to curb the pandemic. Some of these measures have boosted the use of digital technologies, including digital financial services and subsidised internet access.

However, the potential of technology to aid the containment of the spread of the coronavirus notwithstanding, the internet is now also posing a significant threat to fighting the pandemic. In many African countries, social media has been awash with speculation, false and misleading information on Covid-19. This has resulted in some legislative responses criminalising the spread of fake news related to Covid-19. In some countries, technology-based responses to the pandemic are marred by pre-existing regressive measures such as digital taxation and internet disruptions, which continue to undermine access to crucial information and the enjoyment of digital rights.

Meanwhile, there is a growing concern that minority and marginalised communities such as refugees and persons with disabilities are being left behind in accessing information on Covid-19. This is because, despite the recent expansion in ICT usage, digital exclusion persists due to limited access and affordability of the requisite ICT tools, and shortage of content in accessible  formats.

As such, this year, FIFAfrica will respond to how coronavirus-related government responses and restrictions are harming the enjoyment of digital rights, including the right to privacy and personal data protection, the right of access to information, and freedom of expression and association.

The conveners of FIFAfrica recognise that internet freedom is multi-faceted, and just like it requires to have a multiplicity of stakeholders working jointly, it also requires a diversity in the voices, backgrounds, viewpoints, and thematic work areas of those that attend FIFAfrica. As such, there are continued proactive efforts to include marginalised communities and at-risk groups in attendance, on panels, workshops and in session themes. FIFAfrica also puts internet freedom on the agendas of key actors including African policy makers, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, law enforcers, developers of internet freedom tools, and the media, paving the way for broader work on advancing digital rights on the continent and promoting the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.

Hosting a hybrid FIFAfrica as a partnership between CIPESA and PIN keeps the stride of remaining responsive to the technology landscape in Africa and expanding the conversation on digital rights. FIFAfrica was initially hosted in Kampala, Uganda in 2014-2016. Since then, its expanding footprint has seen it being hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in 2017, and in Accra, Ghana in partnership with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in 2018. In 2019, FIFAfrica was hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, alongside the Ethiopia Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT).

Tanzania Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill takes shape

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom, Press Release

Digital rights social enterprise, Paradigm Initiative, has concluded a two-day coalition workshop that brought together civil society groups, lawyers, bloggers, journalists, members of the academia in the United Republic of Tanzania. The two-day event took place at Holiday Inn in Dar es Salaam with the Tanzania participants coming together to discuss the state of digital rights in Tanzania with support from Paradigm Initiative that joined the meeting virtually. The workshop culminated in the drafting of a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, 2020 for Tanzania. It is hoped that this Bill, inspired by Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill, will be embraced by the Tanzanian parliament and regulatory authorities after the elections in 2020 and subsequently enacted into law.

It is noteworthy that the Bill presents liberal and progressive proposals which, if enacted into law, will definitely safeguard the digital rights and freedoms of all Tanzanians. The Bill seeks to fill the lacuna that exists in the current legal and institutional framework for digital rights protection in Tanzania and to offer more robust protection. Undoubtedly, it will not only be an auxiliary legislation to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) and the Cyber-Crimes Act but also reinforce the existing internet-use regulations.

Paradigm Initiative Senior Program Manager, Adeboye Adegoke says the organisation hopes to keep the discussion going especially with other relevant stakeholders from Tanzania and with the Tanzanian government agencies such as the TCRA. “ The next step in the process is the sustained engagement of all relevant stakeholders in Tanzania, including the government to ensure that the bill that will be presented to the parliament represents the views of the people of Tanzanians”, Adeboye concluded.

Coalition statement on persistent arrests of journalists and threats on media freedoms in Zimbabwe

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – [July 21, 2020] – As a global coalition of organisations and institutions defending and working to advance human rights in the digital age, we write to express great concern over the growing trend on threats on media freedoms and arrests of journalists and activists in Zimbabwe in recent months. These attacks bear no regard to Zimbabwe’s obligations to:

  • Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the right to freedom of expression including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice or through any media whatsoever;
  • Sections 61 and 62 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of the media;
  • Sections 57, 58, and 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which ensure the rights to privacy, freedom of assembly and association and freedom to demonstrate and petition;

We  further wish to remind the Zimbabwean Government of its obligations to the following regional instruments on freedom of expression; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Windhoek Declaration , African Platform on Access to Information and the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression.

We have noted in the last few days, the increase in random arrests, detentions and questioning of journalists and activists in the course of executing their duties. Specifically, in a space of seven days, we noted the arrest and detention of Hopewell Chin’ono – a respected journalist on July 20th, Jacob Ngarivhume- an opposition activist on July 20th and Blessed Mhlanga- a senior journalist on July 25. We are deeply concerned by the recent raid of the Journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu’s home and arbitrary arrest of his sister in connection with his whereabouts on July 30th 2020 ahead of a planned protest on the 31st of July 2020. These sustained attacks on journalists are a disregard for media freedoms.

We are cognizant of  the Press Briefing on Zimbabwe by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Liz Throssell who expressed the UN concern over the arrests on 24 July 2020 condemning the suggestive acts that authorities in Zimbabwe are  using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
We take note of the 44th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/44/L.18/Rev.1  which reaffirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular, the right to freedom of opinion and expression;

We, therefore, echo the  laid out guidelines laid out inof Principle 20(1) and (2) of the Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa (the Declaration) adopted by the African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session held From 21 October to 10 November 2019 In Banjul, Gambia that the government of Zimbabwe must guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners and take measures to prevent attacks on journalists and other media practitioners, including murder, extra-judicial killing, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, kidnapping, intimidation, threats and unlawful surveillance undertaken by State and non-State actors.

We also wish to highlight 24 other attacks on media practitioners as documented by the MISA Zimbabwe between March 30th and July 21st  2020 when Zimbabwe went on lockdown. Since then, 3 other journalists were reportedly harassed by the State security agents in Zimbabwe as at 26 July 2020. Journalists including Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira are facing prosecution and charged with violating social distancing regulations after attempting to interview three opposition youth leaders who had been abducted and assaulted by alleged security force agents.

We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to cease this obvious clampdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly especially leading up to the planned July 31, 2020 protest action. We refer to the Ministerial statement dated July 25, 2020, issued by Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services- Hon. Monica Mutsvangwa, that explicitly states that Hopewell Chin’ono was not arrested for exposing corruption but rather for “using his social media accounts to incite Zimbabweans to violently overthrow the Government”. We wish to remind the Zimbabwean authorities of the aforementioned rights of citizens to assemble and protest peacefully; and the duty of law enforcement officers to provide the necessary protection during such times.

We call for the Government of Zimbabwe to withdraw all malicious prosecutions against media practitioners and to release  Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, and to drop all charges against Frank Chiktowore and Samuel Takawira.

Further, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe, especially during this crucial time of the COVID-19 pandemic- a matter of life and death, to respect and guarantee media freedoms by ceasing the unfair and unjustified intimidation of journalists to silence dissent. In addition, to avoid using the cover of ‘violating lockdown restrictions’ to mount violent attacks on media practitioners, at a time when citizens depend on them for news and information.

 Signed: 

  1. AfroLeadership
  2. Afrotribune
  3. Association des Utilisateurs des TIC – ASUTIC, Senegal
  4. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  5. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
  6. Centre for Impact Advocacy (CiA)
  7. Centre for Legal Support, Gambia
  8. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  9. Equip Africa Integrated Development Initiative
  10. Gambia Cyber Security Alliance
  11. Liberia Information Technology Student Union
  12. Paradigm Initiative (PIN)
  13. Villes et Communes Magazine

Paradigm Initiative concerned about arrest of whistle-blowing Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Lusaka, Zambia – [July 21, 2020] – Paradigm Initiative, is deeply concerned by the arrest of Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on the 20th of July 2020 from his home in Harare.  The arrest which he live-streamed is allegedly linked to three tweets exposing acts of corruption within the government. The police also arrested an opposition activist Jacob Ngarivhume on the same day. 

Amidst social media alerts suggesting that Hopewell had been abducted by suspected State security agents, the Zimbabwe Republic Police then issued a statement confirming the arrest of the two in connection with the charge of incitement to participate in public violence as provided for in section 187(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23. The 2 are yet to appear in court to be formally charged.

Today, the State security agents in Zimbabwe are reported to have proceeded to Hopewell’s home to search for any gadgets used to tweet the so-called information that is likely to incite members of the public to commit public violence. Hopewells social media accounts have since been taken down. The arrest of Hopewell and Jacob comes at a time where the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum a coalition of 20 organisations including MISA-Zimbabwe has documented 24 attacks on media practitioners as presented in their Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 19th to 20 July 2020 – Days 110 to 111 which captures the human rights violations from the 30th of March 2020 when Zimbabwe went on lockdown. 

Paradigm Initiative’s Program Officer for Southern Africa, Bulanda Nkhowani, describes the development as an outlandish action indicating a failure of the government of Zimbabwe to protect journalists in the conduct of their work as mandated by Principle 20(1) and (2) of the Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa (the Declaration) adopted by the African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session held From 21 October to 10 November 2019 In Banjul, The Gambia.

The principle states clearly that States shall guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners and take measures to prevent attacks on journalists and other media practitioners, including murder, extra-judicial killing, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, kidnapping, intimidation, threats and unlawful surveillance undertaken by State and non-State actors. “The Declaration echoes the spirit of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.” Bulanda concluded

We call the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that media freedoms are respected without the harassment of journalists in the execution of their mandate to ensure access to information which is critical for holding governments accountable to their citizenry.

We further urge the government of Zimbabwe to desist from arbitrary arrests of journalists, to desist from the unjustified invasion of their privacy and to follow due process to ensure that Hopewell and Jacob get access to justice says Paradigm Initiative’s Community Manager, Thobekile Masimbe

For more information about this statement, please contact: media@paradigmhq.org

 

Paradigm Initiative préoccupé par la censure des médias en ligne au Bénin

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Yaoundé, Cameroon – [21 juillet  2020] –  Un communiqué de presse signé le 7 juillet 2020 par la Haute Autorité de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication (HAAC) du Bénin annonce la « suspension sans délai » de plusieurs sites d’informations en ligne dans le pays.

Ledit communiqué menace également les journalistes des organes de presse en ligne de poursuites judiciaires pour violation de l’article 252 qui stipule que : « l’exploitation directe ou indirecte en République du Bénin à titre gratuit ou onéreux, d’un site Internet fournissant des services de communication audiovisuelle et de presse écrite destinés au public est subordonnée à l’autorisation de la Haute Autorité de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication ».

Paradigm Initiative est profondément préoccupé par cette décision de la HAAC dont l’objectif est sans doute d’étouffer l’expression des opinions plurielles sur Internet au Bénin et invite le gouvernement a donné le temps nécessaire aux médias en ligne pour leur conformité.

« La décision de la HAAC et ses exigences mettent en danger l’avenir des blogueurs et des médias diffusant des contenus en ligne au Bénin. Nous exhortons le gouvernement béninois à prendre des mesures appropriées pour garantir la liberté d’expression en ligne », a déclaré Emmanuel Agbenonwossi, chargé de Communications de Paradigm Initiative.

Par ailleurs, Paradigm Initiative exhorte le président béninois Patrice Talon au respect des engagements internationaux pris par le Bénin en matière de droits humains en général et des droits numériques en particulier. Depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir du président Patrice Talon en 2016, la liberté de la presse n’a cessé de se détériorer au Benin et le pays a perdu 35 places depuis 2016 au Classement mondial établi par Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Aucun pays n’a connu un tel recul ces dernières années.

De 2016 à ce jour, le Bénin a enregistré 11 cas de violation des droits numériques allant des perturbations des réseaux sociaux en période électorale à l’arrestation et détention des journalistes pour des publications en ligne.

Le cas le plus récent est la condamnation en janvier 2020 du journaliste Ignace Sossou à dix-huit mois de prison ferme pour avoir tweeté les propos d’un procureur lors d’une conférence organisée par Canal France international.

Pour toute demande de renseignements à propos de ce communiqué de presse, veuillez envoyer un courriel à notre responsable des projets en Afrique francophone, Rigobert Kenmogne, rigobert.kenmogne@paradigmhq.org 

Paradigm Initiative trains 65 Tanzanians on digital policy

By | Press Release

Paradigm Initiative has concluded a 3-day Digital Policy Workshop for Tanzanian Digital Rights Stakeholders from 7th-9th July 2020. Over 100 people applied to attend the workshop with over 65 persons selected to participate.

The workshop was officially opened by Paradigm Initiative’s Chief Operating Officer, Nnenna Paul-Ugochukwu, and took place over the course of three days, introducing participants to the basic concepts of digital rights and the existing policy, legal and institutional framework in Tanzania.

The workshop specifically examined Tanzania’s Cybercrimes Act and the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA).

According to a Program Officer at Paradigm Initiative, Ekai Nabenyo, “It is evident that there is an urgent need to create an empowered civil society and digital rights community for the Republic of Tanzania to be able to safeguard its citizens’ digital rights”.  “The civil society should be empowered to shape and dictate digital policy in the country,” Ekai further states.

Participants urged the government of Tanzania to respect the rights of its citizens and to provide the necessary platform for civil society to oversee government adherence to its human rights obligations as election dates draw closer. They also expressed concerns that the current digital policy environment provides a fertile platform for human rights violations and a tendency for impunity on the part of state officials.

“As a digital rights advocacy organization, we endeavor to continue to closely monitor the state of digital rights in Tanzania. We shall continue to work with other stakeholders to build the capacity of civil society groups to be able to competently influence, protect and safeguard digital rights in Tanzania and in the region, through similar interventions” says the Senior Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, Adeboye Adegoke.

The end goal of the workshop is to ensure that stakeholders in Tanzania that already understand and follow current trends in digital rights, Tanzania civil society groups, and others can leverage the expertise of Paradigm Initiative and its partners to be able to work together with the regulatory authority and the parliament in Tanzania towards improving the state of digital rights in the country.

Participants agreed to work together in order to present a united and formidable force in its advocacy engagements in Tanzania.

Paradigm Initiative salue la décision historique de la cour de justice de la CEDEAO sur les coupures d’Internet au Togo

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria. – [25 juin 2020] –  Ce jeudi 25 juin 2020, Paradigm Initiative se joint à d’autres organisations de la société civile pour célébrer une décision historique de  la Cour de justice de la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO).

Le tribunal sous-régional a jugé que les restrictions de l’accès à Internet, qui ont eu lieu du 5 au 10 septembre et de nouveau du 19 au 21 septembre 2017, étaient illégales et portaient atteinte au droit des requérants à la liberté d’expression.

Le tribunal a ordonné au gouvernement togolais de verser deux millions de francs CFA aux plaignants à titre d’indemnisation et de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour garantir la mise en œuvre des garanties relatives au droit à la liberté d’expression du peuple togolais.

« Il s’agit d’un jugement historique qui enverra un signal fort à l’ensemble du continent, et aux régimes autoritaires en particulier, pour repenser d’avantages les arguments qu’ils évoquent pour perturber de façons abusives et illégales le réseau internet », a déclaré Emmanuel Vitus, responsable des communications de Paradigm Initiative.

Il a ajouté : « la décision du tribunal a des implications beaucoup plus profondes pour l’avenir de la liberté en ligne au Togo. C’est un moment historique et très important, non seulement pour les plaignants, mais aussi pour les citoyens togolais. »

Selon Boye Adegoke, directeur de programme principal de Paradigm Initiative, « cette décision a de nouveau souligné le rôle que la justice doit jouer pour freiner la tendance de certains gouvernements africains à couper l’Internet à des fins politiques.

Les tribunaux ne peuvent pas se permettre de rester à l’écart car il y a trop de cas impliquant des décisions unilatérales des gouvernements en place de couper l’Internet surtout pendant les périodes électorales ou pendant les manifestations publiques à travers le continent.  Nous félicitons le tribunal de la CEDEAO pour ce jugement historique et félicitons la communauté des droits de l’homme pour cette victoire. »

L’an dernier, Paradigm Initiative a rejoint Access Now, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), ARTICLE 19, Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), et le groupe NetBlocks pour  soumettre ou un mémoire d’amici curiae dans le procès déposé par les Organisations de la Société Civile du Togo.

Au cours des dernières années, le gouvernement togolais a utilisé les coupures d’Internet et les couvre-feux pour étouffer la dissidence et faire respecter la loi et l’ordre. L’une des grandes préoccupations du gouvernement togolais est l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux pour organiser des manifestations anti-gouvernementales.

Le recours excessif à la force par les forces de sécurité et la violence ont fait au moins 11 morts, dont des enfants. Plus de 200 manifestants ont été arrêtés lors des manifestations de 2017.

L’actuel président Faure Gnassingbé dirige le pays depuis sa prise de fonction, en 2005, à la suite du décès de son père, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, qui a régné d’une main de fer pendant 38 ans.

Le Togo n’a pas de législation appropriée régissant l’utilisation et la liberté d’Internet. Ce vide juridique permet  au gouvernement et au pouvoir judiciaire d’appliquer le Code pénal, la loi sur la cyber sécurité, etc.. pour régir les activités en ligne. Avec ces lois inappropriées, les citoyens risquent jusqu’à cinq ans d’emprisonnement pour activités ou propos tenus en ligne ou sur les réseaux sociaux.

La nécessité d’une législation sur la liberté d’Internet a été évoquée ces dernières années par la presse et la société civile. Paradigm Initiative a commencé à travailler avec Afrotribune, en 2018, pour doter le pays d’une loi complète sur les droits et libertés numériques.

Notre travail en faveur d’un environnement en ligne respectueux des droits au Togo se poursuit et nous accueillons ce jugement historique avec enthousiasme.

Pour tout renseignement complémentaire sur la présente, n’hésitez pas à communiquer avec nous via media@paradigmhq.org

 Paradigm Initiative praises historic ECOWAS Court decision on internet shutdown in Togo

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria. – [June 25, 2020] – Today, Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise that advocates for digital rights and inclusion in Africa ,  joins other civil society organizations to celebrate a landmark trial by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice.

The regional court has ruled that the restriction on Internet access, which took place from September 5 to 10 and again from September 19 to 21, 2017, was illegal and an affront to the applicants’ right to freedom of expression.

The court ordered the government of Togo to pay two million XAF to the plaintiffs as compensation, and to take all the necessary measures to guarantee the implementation of safeguards with respect to the right to freedom of expression of the Togolese people.

“It is a historic judgement that will send a strong signal to the entire continent, and to ruthless regimes in particular, to rethink the assumed benefits of illegal and abusive network disruptions,” said Emmanuel Vitus, Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer.

He added, “the court’s decision has far deeper implications for the future of online freedom in Togo. It’s a huge moment in the country’s recent history and very significant, not just for the plaintiffs, but also for the citizens of Togo.”

According to Boye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Senior Program Manager, “this decision has again emphasised the role that the court must play to rein in some African governments’ tendency to shut down the Internet towards political ends. Courts cannot afford to be aloof because there are too many cases, across the continent, involving unilateral decisions to shut down the internet by incumbent governments especially around election periods or during protests. We commend the ECOWAS court for this landmark judgement and congratulate the human rights community for this victory.” 

Last year, Paradigm Initiative joined Access Now, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), ARTICLE 19, Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP), Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), the and NetBlocks Group to submit “friends of the court”, or amici curiae brief in the lawsuit filed by local CSOs in Togo.

In the last few years, Togo has used Internet shutdowns and curfews to stifle dissent and enforce law and order. One of the big concerns is the use of social media tools to organize anti-government protests.

The excessive use of force by the security forces and violence has resulted in the deaths of at least 11 people, including children. Over 200 protesters have been arrested during the 2017 protests.

The current President Faure Gnassingbe has led the country of eight million people since taking over, in 2005, following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.

Togo does not have appropriate legislation governing Internet use and freedom, leaving the government and judiciary to apply the existing penal code to online activities individuals have been jailed for up to five years for posting information about government or opposition policy on social media.

The need for legislation around Internet freedom has been raised in the Togolese media. Paradigm Initiative started working with Afrotribune, in 2018, to provide the country with a comprehensive digital rights and freedom bill. Our work towards a rights-respecting online environment in Togo continues, and we welcome this landmark judgement with excitement.

For any inquiries about this press release, please send an email to media@paradigmhq.org 

 

Policy Brief: The Digital Identity Process in Nigeria

By | Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria. – [June 17, 2020] – Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise that advocates for digital rights and inclusion in Africa has released a policy brief titled  ” The Digital Identity Process in Nigeria”

In a rapidly developing digital economy where identity is increasingly becoming important, this policy brief evaluates the digital identity process in Nigeria including problems, opportunities and recommendations. Importantly, the Brief feeds public discourse and citizen complaints into its analysis especially as the identity owners are the most affected group in the ID process. Recommendations touching on legal, technical and capacity development areas are made in the brief and we hope that the relevant stakeholders find them instructive in implementing one of the biggest duties in the modern economy; managing digital identity. 

“The policy brief is an assessment of the implementation of digital identity in Nigeria. We have been calling the attention of the identity management commission and other stakeholders to certain red flags and we have emphasized the importance of safeguards as an important prerequisite before implementing digital identity in Nigeria,”said Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager . 

 “The lack of data protection law has been at the forefront of our demands. In addition to this, we have requested for a sustained civil society engagement to ensure that digital identity isn’t imposed on the people.” Adeboye added..

<<<Download the Policy Brief here>>> 

 About Paradigm Initiative 

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organization’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls.  The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013. 

For any inquiries about this press release, please send an email media@paradigmhq.org

 

Policy Brief: Tanzania’s EPOCA and Cybercrimes Laws Offer No Protection for Citizen’s Data

By | Press Release

Nairobi, Kenya. —[June 17, 2020]—Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise that advocates for digital rights and inclusion in Africa has released a Policy brief on Tanzania’s Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2018 and Cybercrimes Act, 2015.

Titled “Tanzania’s EPOCA and Cybercrimes Laws Offer No Protection for Citizen’s Data,” the policy brief analyses the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2018 and the Cybercrimes Act, 2015.

In summary, the policy brief underlined how Tanzania’s ICT Policy of 2015 recognizes ICT as the bedrock of national economic development and the country’s efforts to become a middle-income economy by 2025.

In this context, the main laws providing protection in Tanzania are the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2018 and the Cybercrimes Act, 2015. The Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) is the principal legal framework as far as electronic and postal communications and telecommunications in Tanzania are concerned.

The Act is administered by the Tanzania Communications and Regulatory Authority (TCRA), a government agency mandated to provide the required oversight in the sector. The Cybercrimes Act, 2015 provides for penal sanctions to deter or discourage privacy and data protection abuses and violations.

The Act is a draconian piece of legislation that has been used repeatedly to violate citizens’ privacy and other digital rights. In 2018, the government issued online content regulations which jeopardize the right to privacy, as well as citizens’ right to freedom of expression.

The country’s 1977 constitution guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to seek, receive and impart information. While the right to privacy is not absolute and the government is mandated, under Article 16 (2), to pass the necessary legal procedures to limit the enjoyment of this right, Tanzanian’s implementation of this provision has been criticized.

Tanzania’s digital rights legislation regulating digital content and online communications have received widespread criticism for threatening citizens’ realization of these constitutional guarantees.

Legislations such as the Cybercrimes Act, have been used to prosecute online users perceived to be critical of the persona of the president or of other powerful individuals and institutions. The Act further criminalizes publication of false information.

Additionally, the lack of a well organized and comprehensive legal framework has left many gaps in respect of privacy and data protection in Tanzania. These loopholes that have been exploited by repressive authorities to silence dissent and infringe on citizen rights ought to be sealed if the digital rights guarantees are to see the light of day. Privacy and data protection are largely new concepts to many Tanzanians.

This is largely attributed to the low level of ICT literacy in the country. As a result of this low level of awareness, therefore, a majority of internet users do not know or understand the risks they face.

Recommendations:

  1. There is an urgent need for civil society groups and other stakeholders to create awareness and make prescriptions for law reform in order to ensure respect for digital rights in Tanzania.
  2. There is need to repeal the current digital rights related laws in Tanzania to attune them to international standards and to the developments in the international arena in the area of digital rights.
  3. There is a need to enact a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Tanzania to complement the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2018 and the Cybercrimes Act, 2015.

“The lack of a robust, well organized and comprehensive legal framework in Tanzania has left many gaps as far as privacy and data protection in Tanzania is concerned,” said Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director.

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 About Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organization’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls. The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013.

For any inquiries about this press release, please send an email to media@paradigmhq.org.

 

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