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

Par | Liberté d'Internet, Communiqué de presse

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 déclaration 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 signalé 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

Par | Liberté d'Internet, Communiqué de presse

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

Par | Liberté d'Internet, Communiqué de presse

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

Par | Liberté d'Internet, Communiqué de presse

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 

 

Malawi decides: Assessing the risk of an internet shutdown

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, Liberté d'Internet

On Tuesday 23rd June 2020 Malawi went to the polls in a historic presidential re-run. The southern African nation shocked the continent and set precedence when the constitutional court overturned the May 2019 general election outcome and ordered a rerun due to apparent widespread vote-rigging.

On May 21st, 2019, Malawians went to cast their ballots, with the hope of a free and fair election devoid of all forms of violence and election malpractice. Almost ten candidates including the sitting president Peter Mutharika, who was standing for his second and final term, heavily contested the election.

While ballots were cast in a peaceful and uneventful manner, the aftermath of the elections left a mark for the people of Malawi. Three days into the voter counting, the opposition reported over 147 cases of ballot irregularities to the Malawi Electoral Commission and result sheets were found to have been tampered with, with some sections blotted out and altered with a correction fluid popularly known as Tippex.

News of the irregularities sparked protests in some opposition strongholds, however, the court lifted the injunction and the electoral commission confirmed President Mutharika’s narrow victory.

With 39% % of the votes in his favour, incumbent President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progress Party was declared the winner, beating his close opponents Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party and Saulos Chilima of United Transformation Movement who won 35% and 20% of the votes respectively. As of 2019, Malawi utilised the winner takes all system. President Mutharika refused to ratify the electoral reforms passed by Parliament, which would allow the majority vote to win (50% plus 1 system).

Meanwhile, the opposition runner up Lazarus Chakwera maintained that his party would not accept the fraudulent election outcome and subsequently petitioned the Constitutional Court. In 2019, Malawi was marred with unprecedented protest action by citizens, ranging from small and spontaneous unrests to large and organised demonstrations. Between May 2019 and July 2019, several protesters were killed and millions of dollars’ worth of property damage. The demonstrators demanded that President Peter Mutharika concedes defeat and the Electoral Commissions head, Jane Ansah, resigns for allegedly presiding over a ‘rigged poll.’

In February 2020, the Constitutional Court of Malawi finally delivered the landmark verdict by declaring the results of the election null, adding that they had not met the standards of a free and fair election, and called for fresh elections within 150 days, a move that was welcomed by many Malawians. The electoral commission was also charged with failing to uphold its constitutional responsibilities. The verdict, which was later validated by the Supreme Court, illustrated the growing independence of the Judiciary in Malawi.

Although an election postponement was looming, Malawians were bent on voting on June 23, 2020, regardless of the COVID 19 virus and rumours of delayed ballot papers that threatened to have the election date shifted even further. Some CSO groups and opposition party representatives went as far as monitoring the plane in real-time that was transporting the ballot papers to Lilongwe. In addition, the group gathered at the airport to monitor the arrival of the ballot papers.

While Malawi may have fared well in setting democratic precedence, the country reported declining respect for digital rights in 2019. The May 2019 elections saw a series of warning statements issued by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), aimed at internet users over the use of online and social media tools during the election period. A partial internet shutdown was also recorded shortly after the polls closed, the disruption lasted several hours on the evening of May 21st, 2019.

Such deciding moments provide a perfect cover for digital right violations to occur, perpetrated by those seeking to silence loud and dissenting voices online. Paradigm Initiative continues to monitor the situation in Malawi for any digital rights implications that may arise during the 2020 election rerun.

Policy Brief: Contextualizing the use of mobile data for COVID-19 surveillance in Nigeria

Par | Droits numériques, Politique de TIC

Lagos, 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 on Policy responses to the covid-19 Pandemic. 

The Policy brief titled, ‘’Contextualizing the use of mobile data for COVID-19 surveillance in Nigeria through the lens of legality, necessity and proportionality’’ analyzes the reported plans by the Nigerian government in cooperation with MTN the country’s largest telecommunications company to use mobile subscribers data in the aid of contact tracing for the coronavirus disease spread. 

Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager Digital Rights at Paradigm Initiative, ‘’In light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus around the world, many governments adopted mobile technology enabled contact tracing in a bid to stem the disease spread. In the rush to implement these measures to stem the spread of the virus, human rights considerations were not uppermost in the mind of policy makers across the world’’.

Adeboro Odunlami, Legal Officer Paradigm Initiative added, ‘’The international human rights principles of legality, proportionality and legality are benchmarks with which we can assess whether certain steps taken by entities meet minimum human rights standards and are based on human rights considerations. Having assessed Nigeria’s proposed mobile contact tracing plans based on these principles, we clearly see that these plans were hatched without properly weighing these international human rights standards.

According to Bulanda Nkhowani, Program Officer Digital Rights, Southern Africa Paradigm Initiative, ‘’Indeed, this rush to implement mobile contact tracing without a conscious and deliberate effort to safeguard human rights is not unique to Nigeria. We see this trend replicated across Africa. This period presents a unique opportunity for organizations working on digital rights to remind the world that digital rights are indeed human rights. Policies and actions of government which have the capacity to limit human rights must be accessed according to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and must also have the requisite oversight at the appropriate levels of government to forestall abuse’’.

<<<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: The Digital Identity Process in Nigeria

Par | Communiqué de presse

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

Par | Communiqué de presse

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.

Recommandations:

  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.

<<<<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 to media@paradigmhq.org.

 

Paradigm Initiative condemns the recently amended National Broadcasting Commission Code in Nigeria 

Par | Communiqué de presse

Abuja, Nigeria – [June 16, 2020] – Initiative Paradigm, a pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa,   joins voices with innovators and internet broadcast content creators in Nigeria to strongly condemn the recently amended National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code released to “make provision for Local content, increased advertising revenue, and restriction of monopolistic behaviour in the broadcast industry”.

The Commission has by this Amendment, laid down unfavorable conditions and requirements for the just budding PayTV Industry in Nigeria; placing unfair and unrealistic burdens on local content producers and by extension, the economy.

While we’re yet to get an official definition from the Commission for ‘Web/Online Broadcasting’, it is clear from the new provisions that certain clauses will affect the development of the sector. The compulsion to prevent exclusive rights to content on PayTV platforms is archaic and regressive, to say the least. Apart from it being a blatant affront to the freedom of copyright holders to use and license their work as they wish, it also chokes innovation in the streaming television business. 

Furthermore, the NBC mandates that all persons wishing to operate web/online broadcasting services in Nigeria must register with the Commission. However, there is no public record of the Commission’s consultation with these stakeholders in making these amendments.

The internet space in Nigeria is developing and innovation is to be encouraged. However, policies like this can greatly discourage the development of technology and technology-based services thereby creating an unfavorable environment for the kind economic growth that is relevant in this age. 

Especially with the new realities faced by Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, government policies should not only desist from hampering nascent technologies but must in fact, encourage and incentivize same. The amendments to the NBC Code do not incentivize innovation in the broadcast and television industry and therefore, we join voices with other stakeholders to call upon the NBC to re-engage its process of amendment by opening dialogue between itself and the key stakeholders who would be affected by these policy directions. 

Furthermore, we call on the NBCto seek policies that will incentivize and not punish local content creation and technology service delivery in the broadcast industry. 

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 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 is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013. 

Paradigm Initiative concerned about plans to abolishes public interest litigation in Tanzania

Par | Communiqué de presse

Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise that advocates for digital rights and inclusion in Africa is deeply concerned about the ongoing process by authorities in Tanzania to abolish Public Interest litigation.

Over the course of the last few weeks and months, the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania debated and passed the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No. 3 of 2020.

In effect, and as evident in its various provisions, the Bill seeks to abolish public interest litigation, meaning that Tanzanian nationals, other persons and civil society organisations (CSOs) like ours in Tanzania shall be required, as a matter of law, to prove how an action complained of “has affected that person personally.”

As most actions brought against government or private entities in the pursuit of public interest litigation are often as a result of human rights violations against the general public or vulnerable persons, public interest litigation will be a thing of the past if this retrogressive law is assented into law by H.E President J.P Magufuli.

A legislation that seeks to modify the well-established principle of locus standi in human rights generally, by barring private individuals and civil society organisations from taking legal action to seek for legal redress against human rights violations unless they can show that they have personally been affected by the law or government action complained about. To put it in context, no country in East Africa has enacted or plans to enact such a law. This is even more worrying as Tanzania heads to the polls within the next few months.

For the common “mwananchi” (citizen) in Tanzania whose access to courts of law is already handicapped by an avalanche of social and economic constraints, the enactment of the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No. 3 of 2020 outlawing public interest litigation provides a fertile ground for human rights abuses in a country that already has a not-so-good human rights record and violates the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. We call upon the President to refuse to be party to the bandwagon that seeks to put to a halt to the progress made by the Republic of the United Republic of Tanzania.

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