Lessons from the Forum on the participation of NGO’s in the 62nd ordinary session of the ACHPR at the Royal Suites Hotel, Nouakchott.

CIPIT was invited to the ACHPR NGO forum to present their biometrics research findings to a side event that was taking place during the African Charter for Human and Peoples Rights 62nd Ordinary Session and to lobby for the inclusion of the right to privacy to the ACHPR (Banjul Charter).

For this mission we teamed up with the Legal Research Centre (LRC) from South Africa and Privacy International from London. Based on his experience in previous ACHPR events, LRC’S Tsanga Mukumba advised us to advocate for the right to privacy to be included to the mandate of Rapporteur to the right of freedom of expression. He added that asking for the inclusion of the right to privacy, while still the end goal to the Banjul Charter, might be difficult at this stage. A sad truth that we discovered through our interactions with the other forum attendees.

Since we were organising a side event as well, we attended other organizations side events to advertise our event.

While interacting with other human rights advocates who had convened at the event, we faced a challenge of convincing them on our digital right agenda. Many felt that there far more important and grave human rights atrocities in the continent such as the death penalty, torture and slavery. We decided to show the participants how digital rights such right to privacy affect their work on other human rights issues. We brought up issues of government surveillance on civil society and instances where telecom corporates work with law enforcement to crackdown on human rights defenders. This argument helped us gain momentum in our interactions and many saw the relevance of our cause.

At the end of the NGO forum, Tsanga submitted a resolution to the forum, which sought inclusion of the right to privacy to the mandate of the Rapporteur to the right of freedom of expression.

Legal Resources Centre Recommended Resolutions to the NGO Forum April 2018  

  •  That human dignity, as contained in Art. 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights is the core right and value which underpins the need for the respect, recognition and promotion of the right to privacy of all people in Africa;
  • To accept that effective respect and promotion of this right is necessary for the enjoyment of a range of human rights, including freedom of expression, access to information, association and peaceful assembly;
  • That the above recognition of the importance and validity of the right to privacy ought to inform and embedded within the process of the revision of the Declaration of the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa flowing from African Commission Resolution 362;
  • That the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information should include privacy and digital rights concerns where these impinge on the ability to communicate and receive opinions freely. Specifically including:
    • Unlawful, disproportionate or unnecessary state surveillance and the private enterprises which enable this through the provision of technological solutions;
    • The role of the private sector in conducting unlawful collection and processing of their customers personally identifiable information;
    • Regulation of the costs of access to the internet, and content and platform neutrality online;
    • The prevalence of ‘internet shutdowns’ in African States, particularly during periods of social protest and elections; 
    • Regulation of the processing of personal data, which can directly or indirectly identify individuals, by public and private bodies, and in particular the need for the processing of sensitive personal data such as biometrics to be subject to higher safeguards.

The LRC is a member of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO). INCLO is a network of 13 independent, national human rights organizations from the global South and North working to promote fundamental rights and freedoms.