Digital rights and inclusion is paramount in any society as they ensure digital empowerment while promoting a positive rights environment and supporting public policy toward internet freedom. They cut across privacy, freedom of expression, access to information, segmentation and exclusion, digital transformation, affordability and gender, among others within existing legal frameworks.
It is worth noting that countries across the continent are continuously making efforts geared towards achieving digitally inclusive and rights-respecting policies in Africa.
It is against this backdrop that we, the undersigned human rights organisations, take note of the Kenya Government’s decision not to shut down the internet and also ensure the media continues to operate freely before, during and after elections. This is a laudable decision and we commend the government for taking this stand.
Earlier assertions by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to suspend Meta Inc’s Facebook platforms for allegedly failing to adhere to hate speech regulations recommended by the government body were worrying. The re-assurances issued over the weekend by Cabinet Secretary of Information Communication and Technology (ICT), Innovation and Youth Affairs, Mr. Joe Mucheru and his Interior and Coordination of National Government counterpart, Dr. Fred Matiang’i are encouraging. We therefore welcome this commitment and urge Kenya to remain true to it as its people prepare to cast their votes on August 9th, 2022.
Kenya has indeed taken a step in the right direction which ought to be emulated by other countries on the continent, more so those gearing for elections such as Angola, Nigeria and the DRC. Angola is set to hold its general election on August 24th, 2022, Nigeria on February 25th, 2023 and the DRC in November 2023. .
We are therefore urging all parties in Kenya to uphold the right to internet access, political participation, opinion and expression. In doing so, we take cognisance of Kenyans right to freedom of expression which is protected by Article 33 of the Constitution. Article 34 protects freedom of the media while Article 35 protects access to information.
Notably, access to information and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights as stipulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Kenya is a signatory to UDHR, ICCPR and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Article 2 of the country’s Constitution incorporates international law and other human rights treaties which the country has ratified directly into national law.
Having stated the above, we call upon the government of Kenya to work with social media platforms to combat ongoing disinformation and harmful content online by creating and sharing public information through available official channels, as this would serve to support its objective for electoral integrity.
We believe that the internet and digital platforms can be overwhelmingly positive if promoted, protected and preserved.
- African Academic Network on Internet Policy
- African Center for Youth Development, Education and Advocacy Initiative Nigeria and Namibia.
- AfroLeadership – Cameroon
- AW Free Foundation
- Bloggers of Zambia
- Bridges and Hands Foundation
- Buytech Global Resources
- Carrefour Living Lab (CLL, Bénin)
- Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD Ethiopia)
- Centre for Peace Across Borders (CePAB)
- Centre for Youth Empowerment and Leadership (CYEL)
- Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change and the Environment-SierrLeone (CAN-SL)
- Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
- Community Voices Zimbabwe
- Digispace Africa
- Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (DRLI)
- Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria)
- Human Rights Journalists Network Nigeria
- Koneta Hub ( South Sudan)
- Paradigm Initiative (PIN)
- Rudi International – DRC
- Rwanda Clubs for Peace.
- The Environment Shield.
- WAICT Action Cape Verde
- Youth and Society (YAS) – Malawi
- Zaina Foundation