Paradigm Initiative Celebrates Resolution 580 on Maintaining Internet Access During Elections in Africa

March 26, 2024
Paradigm Initiative Celebrates Resolution 580 on Maintaining Internet Access During Elections in Africa | Report Focus News
Paradigm Initiative Celebrates Resolution 580 on Maintaining Internet Access During Elections in Africa

In a landmark move towards reinforcing digital freedoms, the Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has embraced the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ (ACHPR) recent adoption of Resolution 580. This critical resolution urges African countries to avoid internet shutdowns during election periods, spotlighting a significant victory for electoral transparency and online freedom. Adopted at the ACHPR’s 78th Private Ordinary Session, held virtually from February 23 to March 8, 2024, this development represents a pivotal step forward in the fight for unhindered digital access on the continent.

The endorsement of Resolution 580 by PIN comes on the heels of the organization’s active involvement and dialogue with the ACHPR, fueled by its extensive oversight of Africa’s digital rights landscape. This resolution, rooted in the principles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, particularly Article 45, signifies a concerted effort to safeguard human rights and uphold the integrity of the digital domain amidst the electoral process.

Key components of the resolution include mandates for state authorities to ensure telecommunication and internet service providers alert users about potential service interruptions and diligently work towards resolving such disruptions promptly. This directive seeks to mitigate arbitrary restrictions on internet access by state entities, emphasizing the crucial role of transparency and responsibility among private sector stakeholders in the digital communication sphere.

The year 2024, a time of significant electoral activity with no less than 21 African nations going to the polls, poses a heightened risk for infringements on digital rights, notably through internet shutdowns. The resolution casts a spotlight on countries like South Africa, Mauritania, Botswana, Namibia, and Senegal, which are gearing up for elections. With a history of internet blackouts in some of these countries, including Mauritania, Chad, South Sudan, and Senegal, the resolution calls for adherence to international norms that protect freedom of expression and access to information.

Resolution 580 reinforces the importance of free expression and the seamless flow of information as outlined in Article 9 of the ACHPR, aligning with Principle 37(2) of the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. This principle advocates for universal, equitable, and meaningful internet access as essential for realizing freedom of expression, information access, and other human rights.

In light of the numerous elections slated for 2024, PIN’s applause for Resolution 580 serves as a reminder to African states of their commitment under Article 4(1) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance. This commitment involves promoting democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, with keeping the internet accessible during elections being a critical aspect of this pledge.

The ACHPR’s dedication to advancing internet freedom through such resolutions highlights the effectiveness of collaborative efforts aimed at enhancing digital rights across Africa. PIN’s acknowledgment of the ACHPR’s proactive engagements reflects a mutual aspiration for a continent where digital spaces remain free and accessible, especially during crucial times like elections.