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30 countries set to grace Lagos Internet Freedom Forum ‘17

Some 30 countries have confirmed participation at the forthcoming 2017 Internet Freedom Forum (IFF), holding in Lagos, reports ITRealms.

The 2017 edition is organised by the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), and has been scheduled between 25 and 27 April, 2017 at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria.

Confirming this, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, said the forum which has participants registered from over 30 countries will bring together stakeholders working on digital rights in Africa including the academia, civil society representatives, media, technology companies, government agencies and active citizens.

He also said that at IFF 2017, participants will engage in important conversations on how to safeguard the digital rights and freedoms of citizens in Africa and beyond.

According to him, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in its 32nd session in June 2016 had declared that “the rights that people enjoy offline should also be protected online.”

He stressed that the UN declaration is a forceful reminder to governments, telecommunications companies, civil society and all stakeholders that human rights across digital platforms must be upheld.

“As we spend more of our time online across digital platforms, protecting the same rights and freedoms people enjoy offline such as freedom of opinion, expression and association on online platforms becomes increasingly important; especially set against the background of recent Internet shutdowns, the arrests of ordinary citizens for expressing their right to freedom of expression online, the enacting of legislation which curtails free speech on digital platforms, and government mandated surveillance of citizens in Africa,” Sesan said.

He noted that there were at least 11 cases of Internet/Internet applications shutdowns in Africa in the year 2016, maintaining that the Internet has been shut-down in Anglophone speaking areas of Cameroon for about 2 months.

ICT Policy Programme Manager, PIN, Adeboye Adegoke, re-echoed the words of David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur for the protection of freedom of expression who described the shutdown as “an appalling violation of the right to freedom of expression and a violation of international law.” IFF has been a pre-eminent forum where the most important stakeholders in digital rights converge to shape conversations and policy direction to ensure that the digital rights of citizens are upheld.

ITRealms gathered that the success of previous editions, IFF 2017 promises to be bigger and better.

Director of Programmes, Paradigm Initiative, Ms Tope Ogundipe, said that as they expect some 200 stakeholders from 35 countries, proceedings at IFF 2017 will be bilingual – in English and French.

“Panellists and participants have been drawn using a multi-stakeholder approach. The Keynote will be delivered by Anriette Esterhuysen, the Executive Director of Association for Progressive Communications (APC),” she said.

Ogundipe gave the list of stakeholders from 35 countries to include 26 African countries; while others are Canada, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and the United States among others.

She said that supporting the 2017 Internet Freedom Forum are Ford Foundation, Google, Facebook, AccessNow, Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria, Mozilla Foundation, World Wide-Web Foundation and Internews, whereas official Media partners include ITRealms, TechCabal, RedMedia, NewsWire and TechWithCFA.


Nonye Dom/GEE  
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