Tanzania: 38 NGOs Call on States To Express Concern Over The Human Rights Situation

Press Release |

Today, DefendDefenders and 37 Tanzanian, African and international human rights organisations publish a letter calling on states to use the next session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to raise concern over Tanzania’s situation in order to prevent a further deterioration.

Since a group of 30 NGOs first wrote a letter on Tanzania, in August 2018, the space for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, journalists, bloggers, the media, LGBTI persons, and opposition and dissenting voices has continued to shrink. The situation in Tanzania, which ranks 118th in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index this year, calls for a response at the United Nations. This can be in the form of individual (national) or joint statements by state delegations.

In the letter, the group of NGOs say: “While we do not believe that at this point, the situation calls for a [HRC] resolution, warning signs of a mounting human rights crisis exist.” We echo the statements delivered in recent months by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and call for preventative engagement with the Tanzanian government.

 
Read the full letter.

Sincerely,

  1. AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
  2. African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. ARTICLE 19
  5. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  6. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) – Ethiopia
  7. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  8. Center for Civil Liberties – Ukraine
  9. Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale – REDHAC)
  10. The Centre for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) – South Sudan
  11. CIVICUS
  12. Civil Rights Defenders
  13. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  14. Committee to Protect Journalists
  15. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  16. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  17. Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme
  18. Human Rights Defenders Network – Sierra Leone
  19. Human Rights Watch
  20. International Commission of Jurists
  21. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  22. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)
  23. International Service for Human Rights
  24. The International Youth for Africa (IYA) – South Sudan
  25. JASS (Just Associates)
  26. Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC)
  27. Ligue burundaise des droits de l’homme ITEKA – Burundi
  28. MARUAH – Singapore
  29. The Network of South Sudan Civil Society Organizations in Uganda (NoSSCOU)
  30. The Nile Centre for Human Rights (NCHR – South Sudan)
  31. Odhikar – Bangladesh
  32. The ONE Campaign
  33. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
  34. Reporters Without Borders
  35. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  36. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
  37. West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
  38. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

This article was first published at the website of DefendDefenders on May 13, 2019.

2019 Edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) Set To Take Place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Announcement |

On September 23-26, 2019 the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will host the sixth Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica). This landmark event convenes a spectrum of stakeholders from across the internet governance and online 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.

This year, FIFAfrica will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where since April 2018 the new Ethiopian government has undertaken unprecedented political and economic reforms. These have included release from jail of thousands of prisoners, announcing plans to liberalise the telecom, aviation, and transportation sectors, and dropping charges against many opposition leaders, bloggers, and activists. On the internet freedom front, the new administration has restored mobile and broadband internet services that had been disrupted since 2016, and unblocked 246 websites, blogs, and news sites that had been inaccessible for over a decade. These pivotal developments serve as an avenue to advance more progressive efforts on internet governance and promotion of human rights online, not only in the country that hosts the African Union (AU) but on the continent at large.

Hosting FIFAfrica in Addis Ababa is also in keeping the stride of expanding the conversation, as well as knowledge and skills development to different parts of the continent. In its inaugural years, the Forum took place in Kampala, Uganda. Since then, FIFAfrica’s 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 West Africa (MFWA) in 2018.

The Forum responds to rising challenges to the enjoyment of internet freedom in various 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 on the continent. FIFAfrica therefore puts internet freedom on the agenda of key actors including African policy makers, regulators, human rights defenders, law enforcement representatives, and the media, paving the way for broader work on advancing online rights in Africa and promoting the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.

Registration and call for session proposals will open later this month. For the latest on the Forum, follow @cipesaug. The event hashtags are #FIFAfrica19 and #InternetFreedomAfrica.

CIPESA Advances the Digital Rights Debate at re:publica Accra

By Simone Toussi |

The first African edition of Europe’s largest internet and digital society festival – re:publica – was held in Accra, Ghana, December 14-15, 2018 and drew in hundreds of participants to showcase and discuss how politics, the arts, innovation, and digital rights have been affected by an increasingly digitised society.

Co-organised by Impact Hub Accra, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and with the support of several partners including the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), re:publica Accra aimed to strengthen Afro-German dialogue about digital issues, and to explore the intersection between digitalisation and collaborative developmental efforts.

CIPESA hosted a Digital Rights Lounge throughout the duration of re:publica, organised workshops on civic participation and online content regulation, and also participated in sessions on the work of investigative journalists and activists, among others.

The Digital Rights Lounge

To reflect its multi-disciplinary nature, re:publica Accra featured four lounges on health, digital creation, digital rights, and hardware innovation. CIPESA hosted the Digital Rights Lounge which featured organisations sharing experiences and showcasing work related to advancing digital rights in Africa.

The lounge featured an exhibition on the state of digital rights in Africa including visuals on press freedom, the gender dynamics of internet usage, access to information, data protection and privacy, affordability, non-discrimination, and network disruptions. This was complemented by research publications and videos on the ongoing efforts to engender progressive internet policies and practices that support human rights, innovation, and development.

Also presented at re:publica were key action areas that emerged from the 2018 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), which was held in Accra, Ghana, at the end of September 2018. Since 2014, CIPESA has held this annual forum that brings together various stakeholders to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for advancing privacy, free expression, non-discrimination and the free flow of information online on the continent. Previous FIFAfrica editions have been held in Uganda (2014-2016) and South Africa (2017).

Sessions held around the lounge included conversations on involving more girls in tech, privacy challengesregulating emerging technologies, hands-on skills session on steganography, and online content creation. There was also a session on the work of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), which groups 30 governments who have committed to work together to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms online.

Advancing Civic Participation through Digital Technologies

Re:publica served as a platform to also share insights on the role of technology in social accountability, civic engagement, transparency and accountability, during a session titled ‘Advancing Civic Participation through Digital Technologies’. The session explored the opportunities and gaps in responsive solutions/platforms for civic participation and for transparency and accountability. Panellists presented cases studies on technology in governance including political mobilisation through print, broadcast and online media in Kenya; public finance tracking in Nigeria; parliamentary monitoring in Ghana; creating an enabling environment for civic technology in post-conflict Somalia; and service delivery monitoring and human rights reporting through ICT in East Africa.   

The session also interrogated how the legislative landscape affects access and infrastructure, cybercrime, and access to information; and how, content regulation and taxation in the respective countries weaken the potential of technology-based initiatives to advance democratisation.

Impact of Online Content Regulation on Digital Rights in Africa

In this session, panellists discussed the online content regulation landscape in Africa with a focus on countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi and Zambia which in 2018 proposed or passed laws and regulations that undermine freedom of expression and access to information online.

These controls are undermining public confidence in the use of online platforms, and could lead to self-censorship and complete withdrawal from online discourse by ordinary citizens and by vocal bloggers and other social media enthusiasts. They are also leading to arrests of some journalists and social media users, including those that express legitimate.

The session comprised digital rights experts and researchers from Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe who shared ideas on alternative approaches aimed at enhancing adoption and use of online platforms as well as content generation for advancing digital rights in Africa.

The panel noted that there was limited citizens’ consultations in coming up with the laws and regulations around internet control and online content regulation, and stressed the need for campaigns to have internet regulation that promotes individuals’ rights and livelihoods and not just the narrow interests of powerful actors such as governments and ruling party officials.

However, for such campaigns to work, it is crucial for civil society and other actors to conduct research to generate evidence to inform advocacy and decision-making; and to proactively offer alternative positions to governments rather than only offering criticism. In addition, the need to involve more actors in promoting digital rights – not least traditional human rights organisations, women’s rights organisations, and private sector actors – was emphasised. The need for digital security training and digital literary campaigns, and for increased use of tools of anonymisation and circumvention tools, was also emphasised.

With the support of the Germany international cooperation agency GIZ, CIPESA enabled the participation at re:publica of 13 individuals from 10 African countries.

How Nigeria and Uganda are Faring on the Right to Information

By Tomiwa Ilori |

Transparency and accountability in governance are key tenets of participatory democracy. To this end, Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce a right to information (RTI) law back in 1766. Finland followed in 1919, and to-date, over 100 countries across the world have enacted laws that give citizens the right to access information in the hands of government.

In Africa, 21 countries have passed Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, while 16 have proposed laws. Most countries have constitutional provisions for the right to information, pursuant to obligations under various international and regional instruments. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. A model law on access to information for Africa was prepared by the African Commission to serve as a template and encourage more countries to adopt legislation embodying international, regional, and sub-regional standards.

Continue Reading →

Reflection: Government Responsiveness in The Age of ICTs

By Nasubo Ongoma |

On this post, I will share key insights from our research on Government responsiveness in the Age of ICTs.

In 2013, the Kenyan government started an ambitious plan to digitise public services by adopting ICTs. On paper, the setup is perfect for democracy to be upheld, we read digital strategies and guides that would transform Kenya into a digital nation. Democracy calls for responsiveness from all stakeholders, manifesting in two way communication. Is this the case on all the digital platforms? Ourresearch question was, how has Kenya fared over the years after the adoption of digital tools?

Continue Reading →

Bridging the Digital Divide: Internet User Journey

By Nasubo Ongoma |

Digital divide is mostly linked with access, the means to bring more people online. The Merriam Webster dictionarydefines it as “the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not”. To bridge the gap, requires a proper interpretation of what it means to go online and what prevents one from going online. Economic inequalities involves the cost of access, devices used, pricing and network availability. Educational inequalities are the skills needed to go online and how to communicate it. Social inequality entails how different populations differ in their ideologies. According to ITU, there are several factors to consider to bridge the digital divide, 1) readiness in terms of the network infrastructure, 2) intensity, measuring the level of ICT usage and 3) impact, which are results and outcomes.

Continue Reading →

Kasese Journalists Trained on Using ICT to Report on Public Accountability

By Loyce Kyogabirwe |
 
As society’s watchdog, the media plays the important role of documenting people, events and developments for purposes of public informing the public. This includes the task of educating and mobilising communities through their content. However, there is a growing concern whether the media is playing these roles to its full extent including in promoting good governance and public accountability at community levels.
Continue Reading →

Privacy & Protection: Do Ugandans Care What Happens to Their Data?

By Neema Iyer |

Let’s be honest.

When was the last time you read the “Terms and Conditions” before you signed up for a new service online?

We don’t blame you. It’s easy to get lost in the legal jargon.

But do you know what happens to your personal data every time you click on “I have agreed to terms and conditions”? Did you know at the mere click to accept, you could have given a way a portion of your vital information and put your data privacy in absolute jeopardy?

Continue Reading →

Reimagining iTax – Key Findings and Outcomes of the Design Sprint

By Kennedy Kirui |

With that done, we called it a day.

Tuesday 17th – Generating solutions

We kicked off the second day of the sprint by reviewing the activities from the previous day. From this, we quickly realized we couldn’t solve the four problems we had identified during the sprint. The first exercise was to decide on the challenge to focus on for the remainder of the sprint. Using the voting dots, each participant selected a challenge they felt if solved would have the most impact. With just one voting round, we identified iTax’s usability as an issue that would be tackled during the sprint.

Continue Reading →