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MRA to Host Session on African Internet Rights Declaration at IFEX General Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) will host a session on the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms at this year’s General Meeting and Strategy Conference of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) taking place from October 5 to 8, at the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago.

MRA’s session, which will take place on Tuesday, October 7, is aimed at raising awareness about the regional initiative from Africa, familiarizing IFEX member organizations with the Declaration, securing endorsements for the Declaration from within the IFEX community, and inspiring similar initiatives in other regions of the world.

But the session is targeted primarily at African members of IFEX and other African organizations and individuals attending the Strategy Conference as well as individuals and organizations from other regions who are interested in or working on digital rights issues, Internet rights and freedoms, Internet governance and the protection of human rights online.

Explaining the convening of the session, MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “The IFEX General Meeting and Strategy Conference represent a perfect opportunity to promote the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.  IFEX is an international network of freedom of expression organizations with members from all continents and the largest such network in the world. Securing the support and endorsement of members of such a community, which brings together freedom of expression and information activists from all over the globe, would significantly contribute to the achievement of one of our objectives, which is for the Declaration to have the status of a reference document and guide for law and policy-making on Internet issues in Africa, at national, sub-regional and regional levels.”

The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms was first launched on September 4, 2014 at the ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place in Istanbul, Turkey.

The development of the Declaration is a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in internet policy formulation and implementation on the continent. The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the internet, and to cultivate an internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.

The Declaration builds on well-established African human rights documents including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press of 1991, the African Charter on Broadcasting of 2001, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of 2002, and the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration of 2011.

The idea for an African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms was agreed upon at the 2013 African Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. A broader meeting was subsequently convened in Johannesburg in February 2014 to commence drafting the Declaration.

The mission of the promoters is for the Declaration to be widely endorsed by all those with a stake in the internet in Africa and for it to help shape approaches to internet policy-making and governance across the continent.

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