Home Politics Paradigm Initiative welcomes ACHPR resolution 580 on internet shutdowns, elections in Africa
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Paradigm Initiative welcomes ACHPR resolution 580 on internet shutdowns, elections in Africa

 

Stanley Ihedigbo

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has welcomed 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.

Resolution 580 was recently adopted at the 78th Private Ordinary Session held online from 23 February to 8 March 2024.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) exercised its mandate to promote human rights per Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), a win for Internet freedom and electoral integrity.

This comes after PIN’s engagement and collaboration with the ACHPR on the resolution addressing Internet shutdowns and elections, following robust monitoring of the digital rights environment in Africa by PIN.

Resolution also 580 urges States to require telecommunications and internet service providers to inform users of potential disruptions and exercise due diligence to resolve any disruptions expeditiously.

It reminds States of their oversight duty to ensure transparency from the private sector, a step that will ensure States refrain from arbitrary action of restricting internet access.

This year, at least 21 African countries have elections, a possible hive of digital rights violations, bearing in mind the likelihood of Internet shutdowns. Countries including South Africa, Mauritania, Botswana, Namibia, and Senegal, will be hosting 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 and the International Covenant on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which articulate these rights in Articles 9 and 19 respectively.

The ACHPR, in Article 9, elaborates on the importance of expression without barriers, calling for the free flow of information. Resolution 580 echoes guidance to States drawn from Principle 37(2) of the ACHPR’s Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the Declaration)  to ‘recognise that universal, equitable, affordable and meaningful access to the internet is necessary for the realisation of freedom of expression, access to information and the exercise of other human rights.’

In cognisance of the numerous elections in 2024, PIN applauds the resolution and reminds African States of Article 4(1) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Good Governance (ACDEG) which stipulates that State Parties shall commit themselves to promoting democracy, the principle of the rule of law and human rights. Keeping the internet open during elections aligns with that commitment.

The ACHPR’s commitment to reiterating obligations for State parties to comply with the African Charter and guidelines is a positive step, particularly in advancing Internet freedom.

PIN commends the ACHPR for the positive engagements and resolutions towards digital rights in Africa.

 

 

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