Web We Want

First #FASTAfrica Milestone: African Commission On Human And People’s Rights

Renata Avila
Written by Renata Avila

Web We Want’s #FASTAfrica campaign is on a mission to make Africa’s Internet Fast, Affordable, Safe and Transparent. Why? Because we believe that when all of the people have access to all of the Internet, all of the time, we will see Africa thrive.

More than 60 activists from 15 countries across the continent are already helping to shape the campaign, and this week sees our first on-the-ground milestone — pressing for the advancement of the African Declaration of Internet Rights at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), in Banjul, The Gambia.

After this, we’ll be holding a Week of Action across the continent from 1-7 May, and then delivering demands based on this week to political and business leaders at the WEF Africa meeting on 11-13 May and the African Union summit in June.

Why does this first milestone matter?

The ACHPR is the continent’s highest Human Rights body, and this week it will hear updates on the state of human rights across Africa from a number of experts.

We think that today it is clear that no citizen can have true access to information without access to the free and open Internet. Digital rights are human rights. But these rights are not being respected. We see Internet and mobile communication shutdowns on election day, increased state surveillance and crackdowns on free speech online. These challenges are immense and to tackle them effectively, we need a strong framework for advancing the rights and freedoms of creators, users and consumers to support the individual responses by local activists to each of these abuses.

#FASTAfrica members have committed to try and ensure that the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is front and centre during the Commission’s discussions. The Declaration is a Pan-African initiative building on existing African human rights frameworks and making these relevant for the digital age. If endorsed by the Commission, it will set the standard and offer guidance to governments who are deciding how human rights are effectively applied online. What’s more, it will give citizens across Africa the ability to hold governments to account for enabling a FAST Internet. If the Commission understands the impact of the Internet and the developments of digital society on human rights in the region, it will become a powerful voice in defending human rights online the same way it defends these rights offline.

What comes after this first milestone?

May 1-7ACTION WEEKCalling for more action on Internet rights in Africa.
May 1International Worker's DaySpeaking out on Internet, economy, jobs and rights.
May 3 World Press Freedom DayFree speech and the Internet should go hand in hand.
May 5African World Heritage DayAfrican culture transcends history on the Web.
May 13-15 World Economic Forum on Africa, Rwanda
Report on results from action week and campaign goals.
JuneAfrican Union SummitReport on results from action week and campaign goals.

How can you get involved?

There are many ways you can help:

  • Join our social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook using #FASTAfrica to let your friends and government representatives know FAST Internet matters to you
  • Take part in the campaign by hosting an event. Register here and we’ll help you spread the word!
  • If you work for an NGO, you can also apply for a small grant to finance your activity.
  • Design graphics, gifs or videos to share on social media telling us why FAST Internet is important to you

We’re just getting started, so watch this space and sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates!

About the author

Renata Avila

Renata Avila

Renata Avila is a human rights lawyer from Guatemala and the Global Campaign Manager of the Web We Want. She has been involved in Internet and Human Rights research since 2009, and currently serves as a Board Member of Creative Commons. She is also on the Courage Foundation Advisory Board, assisting whistleblowers at risk and on the board of D-Cent, exploring the future of decentralised technologies.

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