" ITREALMS: Ripoti: Digital rights violations in Africa, worrisome says PI - ITREALMS

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Ripoti: Digital rights violations in Africa, worrisome says PI - ITREALMS

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A growing number of Africans are using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on a regular basis, which has made digital technologies critical to the enjoyment of their rights and improvement of their livelihoods, reports 

Thus, is worrisome that many governments have taken steps to undermine internet access and even encroach on civic participation and the right to freedom of expression online, according to Paradigm Initiative (PI).
Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan informed ITREALMS that this situation gave birth to the recent launch of Ripoti, noting that some countries, have also cracked down on human rights defenders or journalists who challenge the state authorities.

“The platform was conceived as an easy way for individuals, organizations, and others to report cases of digital rights violations that they experience, witness, or that are reported to them. RIPOTI allows for a community response to these cases. It is available in both English and French. RIPOTI was developed in partnership with the Omidyar Network and the Netherlands Embassy,” he told 

He also cited an instance that in Ethiopia, the internet has repeatedly been cut off during times of social unrest. The same phenomenon has been reported in Cameroon.

Also, Nigeria in January 2021, he said, a news website known for being critical of the government was blocked, allegedly on government orders.

ITREALMS recalls that on the eve of the Ugandan general elections in January 2021, the country’s internet was shut down for weeks. Whereas the president justified the shutdown by saying that it was in retaliation for Facebook removing some pro-government accounts.

In Tanzania, Sesan pointed out that telecom companies were ordered to suspend bulk Short Messaging Services (SMS), bulk communications and individual messages with keywords “CHADEMA”, “LISSU” until after the elections in a bid to weaken the opposition.

Further, he pointed out that in Burundi, on election day WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Yahoo mail were all made inaccessible, while authorities cut access to social media networks.

“Citizens’ rights to express themselves online and offline and gather and disseminate information and ideas are critical to the fate of democracy in Africa,” said Sesan of Paradigm Initiative. Stressing, “Not only that, but the absence of data privacy and protection, illegal and blanket surveillance, internet shutdowns, and other rights violations all impact negatively on democracy and economic development. The centrality of digital rights makes them the business of all citizens.”

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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