May 23





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Paradigm Initiative’s Statement to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Africa at the 79th Ordinary Session

Paradigm Initiative’s Statement to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Africa at the 79th Ordinary Session.

Honourable Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and Commissioners of the African Commission.

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) welcomes the timely adoption of Resolution 580 on Internet Shutdowns and Elections in Africa, which calls on African States to refrain from Internet shutdowns during elections.  This year commenced with at least 21 African countries set to hold elections with countries notorious for internet shutdowns like Mauritania, Chad, South Sudan and Senegal necessitating numerous calls for compliance with International standards promoting freedom of expression and access to information. So far in 2024, Chad and Senegal have already exhibited internet disruptions with a blatant disregard for freedom of expression and access to information, yet State parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

We are concerned about the nationwide telecommunication shutdown in Sudan in February 2024 which left almost 30 million Sudanese without access to the internet or communication channels for over a month. The attendant impact of telecommunications blackouts in Sudan occasioned by the Rapid Support Forces amidst conflict and famine on freedom of expression and access to information is dire during a conflict environment in Sudan. 

Paradigm Initiative is concerned about the harassment and arbitrary arrests of journalists in Nigeria. Recently, Daniel Ojokwu, a reporter with Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) went missing on 1 May  for over 48 hours before it was discovered that he was in police custody, detained by the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) on allegations of violating the Cybercrimes Act, 2015 based on his reporting of a corruption incident where Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals was implicated. He was reportedly transferred to the National Cyber Crimes Center and the Force Criminal Investigations Department in Abuja, without a formal charge. The harassment of journalists for their work is a blatant disregard of Article 9 of the African Charter and a violation of the Nigerian constitution. 

This incident followed other incidents of arbitrary arrests, search and seizure targeting journalists in Nigeria, including the arrest of Nigerian female journalist, Kasarahchi Aniagolu, on 21 February 2024 while covering the raid on Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in Nigeria. Her laptop and smartphone were seized threatening her digital security and confidentiality of sources. 

As such we urge the African Commission to call on the following:

  1. African states with pending elections to keep the internet open and undisrupted in their countries, in promotion of freedom of expression and access to information. 
  2. The government of Sudan to refrain from telecommunications blockages causing internet disruptions and affecting the free flow of information amidst conflict. 
  3. The government of Nigeria to refrain from harassing and arbitrarily arresting journalists and seizing their digital technologies as this violates media freedoms. 



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