US State Department, AU Commission Host Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop for African Leaders

The United States Department of State, in collaboration with the African Union Commission will from June 4 to 6, 2014 host a Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop for key African leaders in Gaborone, Botswana.

The fourth in a series of Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshops, it aims to support participating countries’ continued efforts to develop laws and procedures that will improve their ability to ensure the security of cyber and mobile networks. It is also aims to support participating countries continued efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes involving computers and the Internet, and protect fundamental freedoms online.

African countries invited by the US State Department to participate in the workshop include: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal.

Other invitee countries include the Council of Europe and various regional economic communities, to include, ECOWAS, South African Development Commission, EAC, ECCAS and ICGLR.

Sessions at the workshop will include a panel discussion during the workshop focused on internet freedom and human rights online at which civil society will be represented to provide multiple viewpoints on this issue and to reflect the multi-stakeholder model that is critical to maintaining and promoting internet freedom. The session aims at helping other participants understand the importance of internet freedom both for the protection and promotion of human rights and for long-term development in the region.

South Africa Hosts 2014 AMLF

The 7th African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) will be held in South Africa from November 6 to 8, 2014. The theme of this year’s forum is: “Turning the Page on Hate Speech – The Role of the Media”.

According to AMLF, “This theme was agreed upon following the signing of the Kigali Declaration in April 2014 by local and regional media leaders, journalists, researchers, and others from the world of media to help prepare professional strategies that can turn the page of hate speech on the African continent.

The AMLF is the largest gathering of media owners and operators on the continent. It has grown exponentially from its 55 delegates who attended its inaugural meeting in November 2008. In 2013, over 700 participants from 53 African countries attended the Addis Ababa Forum. For this year’s seventh edition, some 500 participants are expected, representing media houses, development institutions, academics as well as policy and technical experts who are united by a shared commitment to African development and fostering an informed discussion about issues impacting on human development on the continent. Continue reading South Africa Hosts 2014 AMLF

NETmundial Adopts Roadmap on the Future of Internet Governance

The Global Multi-Stakeholder Conference on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial) has adopted a non-binding statement that lays out a roadmap for Internet governance for the world. Held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 16 and 17, 2014, the NETmundial Multi-stakeholder Statement of Sao Paula, lays out the principles and roadmap of Internet governance.

The meeting was convened by the Brazilian government and Brazil’s Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) and co-hosted by 12 countries, namely: Argentina, Brazil, France, Ghana, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States of America. The meeting had over 900 participants from 97 countries and 33 remote hubs for virtual participation. The participants represented civil society, academia, private sector, technical community, and governments.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil declared the NETmundial open by signing Brazil’s Marco Civil da Internet into law on stage and presenting it as a model bill of rights for Internet users. The Marco Civil is a law designed to enforce net neutrality in the country, protect Brazilians’ freedom of expression, and give Brazilian citizens a reasonable expectation of privacy. President Rousseff said that NETmundial is not intended to replace existing Internet governance fora, but rather,” to lend momentum to the ongoing discussions under two key premises: the preservation of an open, democratic Internet, and the desire to incorporate an increasingly broader audience into the process.”

The NETmundial advocated a multi-stakeholder model aimed at welcoming the contribution of all stakeholders. It also stressed that internet governance should promote sustainable and inclusive development and for the promotion of human rights globally.

The Netmundial statement covered issues such as: protection of intermediaries; culture and linguistic diversity; human rights and shared values; security, stability and resilience of the internet; and open standards etc.

However, a lot of participants from the civil society sector showed displeasure with the outcome document especially in the omission of net neutrality in the statement as well as the weak text on mass surveillance.

The document was created with the consultation of government representatives and various industry and citizen groups, to show a consensus of these parties. Although government representatives from India, Russia and Cuba did not support the document, there was a significant effort to find a consensus from such a diverse group of stakeholders.

To view the NETmundial Multi-stakeholder Statement of Sao Paula, kindly click on the link:  http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-Multistakeholder-Document.pdf

SERAP Holds Seminar on the Role of Lawyers, Judges in FOI Implementation

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation will host the Nigeria Justice Sector to a one-day seminar on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and its implementation.

The seminar which will be held in Lagos on June 18, 2014 will focus on the Role of Lawyers and Judges in the Implementation of the FOI Act has Hon. Justice C. C. Nweze of the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division as the guest speaker.

According to the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, “the objective of this Seminar is to contribute to the promotion of transparency and accountability in government and to discuss the potential role for Lawyers and Judges in advancing and reinforcing the effective enforcement and implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.”

The Seminar aims to bring together judges, lawyers, government institutions, civil society organisations, the media and diplomatic missions and embassies, among others, to discuss opportunities provided by the FOI Act for enhancing transparency, accountability and good governance in Nigeria.

SERAP is a human right non-governmental organization whose mandate include promoting and seeking respect for Socio-Economic Rights of Nigerians, and to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights

Nigeria to Host 3rd African Internet Governance Forum

The third African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) will take place in Abuja, Nigeria from July 10 to 12, 2014. According to the Secretariat of AfIGF at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Forum will discuss critical issues of relevance and concern to the continent as part of a global 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10). The Forum is targeted at considering and adopting efficient ways to improve internet services and internet access in the continent and will also make recommendations for consideration and adoption by African governments and other stake-holders.

The ECA is the host of the Secretariat of the African Internet Governance Forum with the African Union Commission as a member.  The ECA has been playing a leading role in the development of an Information Society in Africa, a critical component of which is enhancing Africa’s participation in the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) consultations in order to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard on these very important issues.

The Internet Governance Forum is one of the major outcomes of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society.  The African Internet Governance space was very active in the lead up to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 and became even more so after the Summit.

Egypt hosted the first AfIGF from October 2 to 4, 2012 and Kenya hosted the second from September 23 to 26, 2013.

PIN Holds Cybercrime Panel During AITEC Africa Conference July 2014

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) will convene a panel discussion on Cybercrime at the AITEC Africa Conference in July 2014. The panel aims to discuss the Cybercrime Bill 2013; its timing, the controversies surrounding it and what should really be done about cybercrime in Nigeria without hurting Internet Freedom.

According to Gbenga Sesan, PIN Executive Director, “the panel aims to discuss the Cybercrime Bill 2013, if the bill is a little too late, the controversies surrounding the bill, and what Nigeria should really do about cybercrime without hurting Internet Freedom.”

He said: “Rapid technological developments have provided vast areas of new opportunity and potential sources of efficiency for organizations of all sizes. These new technologies which we all rely upon have, however, also brought with them unprecedented threats. Examples of these threats are hacking, data tampering, online fraud, cyber- bullying and many more. These threats are surprisingly cheap to execute (especially depending on the type of threats and its effect) and can be very devastating to both personal lives and organizations, especially with online frauds which have been termed 419 scams by the Nigerian public and has given us an infamous reputation. These have also led to the Nigerian government finally taking up the issue and creating a cybercrime bill in Nigeria which is currently on the floor of the National Assembly.”

Now entering its seventh year as the region’s leading banking forum, AITEC Banking & Mobile Banking West Africa 2014 addresses the key issues faced by the region’s increasingly dynamic financial services sector.

The Nigeria Internet Governance Forum Set to Hold in June 2014

The Local Multi-stakeholders Advisory Group (LMAG) of the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF), in collaboration with other local stakeholders, is organizing a two-day Nigeria Internet Governance Forum in Lagos. The LMAG includes: the Ministry of Communication Technology (MCT), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Internet Society (ISOC) Nigeria, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Global Network for Cybersolution Ltd/Gte (GNC), Rita Talabi Foundation, Creative Technology for Development Initiative (CTDI) and DigitalSENSE Africa (DSA).

Mary Uduma, Convener, NIGF
Mary Uduma, Convener, NIGF

The Forum is scheduled to hold at MUSON Centre, Onikan Lagos on June 9 and 10, 2014 at 9:00am daily.

The first day of the two-day 2014 NIGF will be devoted to the youth as a pre-event. It would host a youth workshop focusing on “Internet Governance for Job Creation & Social Enterprise Development” to be presided over by Professor Cleopas Angaye, an Internet Security Consultant and former Director General of NITDA. Day two would centre on “Harnessing Multi-Stakeholders Framework for Internet Governance & Economic Growth” with discussions led by 2014 forum chairman, Austin Okere of Computer Warehouse Group Plc.

The NIGF is a renewed collaborative effort of internet stakeholders in the country led by the LMAG since 2012 to help provide a coordinated mechanism for domestic stakeholders’ participations in local, regional and global internet governance dialogues. The effort has culminated in partnerships, coalitions and dialogues that redefine Nigeria’s position at internet governance meetings.

According to the Convener, Mary Uduma, the NIGF is aimed at “providing a sustainable national forum and structure that engages industry, government, lawmakers, the academia, civil society and all stakeholders in a strategic national debate on internet governance”. She noted that over the years, the Internet has affected the way we live and communicate with one another and it has been a huge contributor to economic development. “It affects virtually all areas of life such as business, health, education and transport,” she declared. Uduma further stated that the strategic importance of the forum is such that participants are drawn from all social and economic groups to have a say, through multi-stakeholders’ dialogue, in establishing local principles and protocols that would guide the governance of the Internet in order to facilitate economic growth in Nigeria.

The Forum has recorded a combined attendance of over 1,000 stakeholders since its inception in 2012. It has attracted active participation from public institutions, private sector groups, civil society groups, professional bodies, trade associations, academia, students and youths, military and para-military organizations, security and law enforcement agencies, government, law makers, ICT industry, internet users, and the public, as well as media groups from print, electronic and online, scholars and research scientists.

Uduma urged participants to register online at NIGF’s website (http://www.nigf.org.ng/), pointing out that NIGF 2014 is focused on engaging a multi-stakeholder forum to harness and aggregate productive ideas, best practices and experiences towards facilitating an all-inclusive framework for internet governance in Nigeria that will actively stimulate economic growth.

Topics to be discussed at the NIGF 2014 include: IGF & Future of the Internet ecosystem; Internet as an engine for growth & development, Content Creation, Dissemination and Use; Enhancing Digital Trust; Policies enabling Access; Emerging Issues; and Critical Internet Resources

The expected outcomes from the Forum include the following: Enable consensus building among stakeholders on framework for Internet governance in Nigeria; Address the nation’s most critical and evolving issues on Internet governance; and Advancing the nation’s position at the regional and global IGF Forum.

Tenure of MacArthur Foundation President Ends

The MacArthur Foundation has announced the departure from the Foundation, its President, Robert L. Gallucci.  His five year tenure will come to an end on July 1, 2014.

Julia Stasch, Interim President, MacArthur Foundation
Julia Stasch, Interim President, MacArthur Foundation

The Foundation’s Vice President for U.S. Programs, Julia Stasch will serve as interim President beginning from July 1, while a search is underway to find a permanent replacement.

The announcement was made on April 29, 2014 by the Board Chairman, Marjorie Scardino.

According to her, “Bob accomplished what he set out to do and more at MacArthur, he changed the Foundation’s culture and practices, embedding assessment in all of our programs so we realize the power of impact; recruiting and nursing talented professionals and giving them the freedom to use their talents to make MacArthur better; and maintaining the Foundation’s reputation for creativity and impact.”

“As the end of his term approaches, the Board decided to look for a new kind of leadership to accelerate the pace of change in how MacArthur can use existing and new tools to tackle even bigger goals.”

Robert Gallucci said, “It has been an honour to lead MacArthur and work with such an extraordinary Board, staff, and group of grantees. I found tremendous personal and collective future: preventing nuclear terrorism, strengthening American democracy, and reforming juvenile justice. I know MacArthur will continue its important work and only increase its local, national, and global impact in the years ahead.”

The Foundation will continue its current grant making and will not stop its urgent work to address some of the most significant challenges facing Chicago, the US, and the world.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is an independent foundation that supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. Works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

PIN Organizes Universal Periodic Review Follow-up Meeting for Nigeria

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) in partnership with CIVICUS, PEN Nigeria and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) held a Universal Periodic Review (UPC) follow-up meeting for Nigeria in Abuja  on May 20, 2014.

The meeting was a follow-up consultation which brought together human rights defenders and civil society activists from the country to deliberate on the recommendations made to, and accepted by, the Nigerian government during its October 2013 review. Nigeria experienced its first Universal Periodic Review process in February 2009 and the second in October 2013.

The aim of the follow-up meeting was to  identify strategies to monitor the implementation of recommendations made to the government during the last UPR review; identify ways of monitoring the government’s compliance with the recommendations; form a coalition among civil society organisations to engage as a collective in future UPR processes in Nigeria; produce a report on the strategies and monitoring mechanisms agreed to during the consultations; and deiscuss the status of government’s mass surveillance project(s) within the context of compliance with UPR recommendations.

 The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established through UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 passed on 15 March, 2006, which also created the UN Human Rights Council. This resolution mandated the Council to “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all State.”

A report on human rights situation must be submitted by every country under the review approximately 6 months before the review is conducted. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can submit information as part of the process which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report, which is considered during the review.

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, although any UN member State can take part in the discussion with the reviewed States.

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities.

OMCT Launches Universal Anti-Torture Standards

The World Organisation Against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture-OMCT) has launched a global initiative to mobilize civil society on implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).   OMCT announced the launch at the reception held to mark the 52nd session of Committee Against Torture.

OMCT President, Yves Berthelot, said, “In the coming years we will undertake a concerted effort with our global network to mobilize local actors on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. Ultimately we will only succeed if we manage to generate local civil society support and build real constituencies for change.”

According to Berthelot, “The Committee has proven to be an important element in the global fight against torture. Its authoritative recommendations can make a real difference.” Though he expressed concern that “the Committee continues to face multiple challenges, such as late or non-reporting by states, a chronic lack of implementation on the part of state parties to the Convention, and the reluctance by states to disseminate and debate the results openly with society at home.”

In addressing the challenges, the OMCT said it will support civil society access to the Committee’s proceedings including from difficult countries. It will also provide support, policy advise and mentoring to defenders from the field. In addition, the OMCT will implement new and innovative ways to ensure that the reporting process is discussed in the countries concerned, and a coherent and systematic follow-up to the Committee’s recommendation is adhered to.

Berthelot said “we all have a responsibility to ensure that the legal obligations of the UN Convention of Torture do not only exist in law, but trigger real change for people around the world threatened with violence and torture.”

OMCT said it will conduct in depth and sustained advocacy on the implementation of the Convention in six focus countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Togo, Mexico and Colombia. The initiative is implemented jointly with its members of the SOS torture network in the six partner countries. It includes authoritative research on torture, national consultations on legal reforms, effective victims support and remedies and public outreach to generate support for anti-torture reforms.

The OMTC is the world’s largest coalition of non-governmental organisations fighting against arbitrary detention, torture, summary and extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and other forms of violence. The global network consists of almost 300 local, national and regional organisations, which share the goal of eradicating torture and fostering respect of human rights for all.

The OMCT’s Prevention of Torture programme helps its members prevent and report torture by strengthening their capacity through the SOS-Torture network to use United Nations human rights mechanisms. The programme submits alternative reports to UN Committees in collaboration with local NGOs, provides support for individuals and organisations wishing to challenge torture practices in international legal fora and publishes a practical guide on international and regional conventional mechanisms relevant to torture.