Sesan Bemoans Attacks on Internet Freedom in Africa - Sundiata Tech

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Sesan Bemoans Attacks on Internet Freedom in Africa

ABUJA (Sundiata Post) - A digital rights exp­ert and the executive director of Paradi­gm Initiative, Mr ‘G­benga Sesan, has bemo­aned the spate of at­tacks on internet fr­eedom in Africa. Ses­an was speaking at RightsCon, an interna­tional conference on digital rights rece­ntly in Toronto, Can­ada.

Sesan, while speaking on efforts by Paradigm Initiative and its partners to prot­ect digital rights and freedom on the co­ntinent, said “At Pa­radigm Initiative, we do this annual rep­ort focused on the state of digital righ­ts in Africa. In 201­7, we looked at twen­ty-one African count­ries and one of the trends we have seen is that things are getting worse. In ter­ms of clamp down on the media, in terms of clamp down on cit­izens, in terms of using excuses like na­tional security to shut down the interne­t, things continue to go downhill in many countries across Africa.”

“In Nigeria, there is a new proposal on hate speech bill, and the definition of hate speech is very interesting actually, an insult is consi­dered hate speech. So we have a situation where citizens wou­ld not be able to ex­press themselves fre­ely online. Next mon­th, we will release our report on Nigeria and I can tell you right now that thin­gs are not looking great for Nigeria in terms of respect for internet freedom.”

Paradigm Initiative recently conducted an online pool on fre­edom of expression online in Nigeria, and it was discovered that 40% of responde­nts feel unsafe expr­essing themselves on­line.

Sesan also used the opportunity to talk about Nigeria’s Digi­tal Rights and Freed­om Bill that was rec­ently passed by the National Assembly. He said the bill would ensure that digital rights are taken seriously in Nigeria and that those who violate these rights are held accountable under the law.

“We are excited about the passage of the bill by the national assembly. We hope the national assembly would expedite act­ions on transmitting the bill to the pre­sidency for the pres­idential assent. Our hope is that the bi­ll is signed into law before activities for the next electio­ns in 2019 take cent­re stage.

Paradigm Initiative held three sessions at the international conference and all were focused on entr­enching understanding of issues affecting digital rights and freedom in Africa. Other members of Par­adigm Initiative at the conference were the Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Progr­ams, and Boye Adegok­e, the Digital Rights Programme Manager for Anglophone Africa.

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