African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms COVID-19 Position Paper
Association for Progressive Communications
This position paper is informed by monitoring conducted by the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition of developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various measures adopted by states and other relevant stakeholders have had a direct impact on the enjoyment of rights online. This position paper consolidates the Coalition members’ assessment of, and positions on, the protection, promotion and exercise of human rights online as African states respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The paper focuses on five key areas found in the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, namely:
- Internet access and affordability
- Regulation of content online
- Privacy, surveillance and data protection
- Gender equality and marginalised communities
- The right to information.
The positions in this paper are made mainly with reference to the African Declaration, as well as the newly adopted Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR Declaration). Furthermore, consideration has also been given to the April 2020 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression regarding the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the context of disease pandemics. These resources provide guidance on the triad of information rights – freedom of expression, access to information and privacy – as well as their interplay with other associated rights.
With help from the private sector, the Coalition also encourages other civil society actors and digital rights activists to engage in advocacy to promote these reforms in line with the African Declaration and human rights standards.