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Group drums support for digital rights and freedom bill

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…Babatunde Opalana 

A media right activist group, the Media Rights Agenda has called on the concerned civil societies bodies in the country to support the body in its bid to sponsor the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into law.

Media Rights Agenda in a communiqué issued at the end of a two- day Advocacy Workshop for Civil Society Organizations on the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, organized  under the Global Internet Freedom Program (Nigeria) in Abuja between June 28 and 29, 2017, invited other civil society organizations, the Media, the Private Sector, Trade Unions, Professional Bodies and Other Non-State Actors, as critical stakeholders, to support the Bill and contribute to creating public awareness about the Bill.

Participants at the workshop observed that there was ample evidence available to support the proposition that maintaining an open, human rights respecting online environment has a beneficial economic impact for countries as well as aiding development, democracy and innovation.

They called on the National Assembly to speedily pass the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into Law to bring Nigeria’s domestic law, policies and practices on the protection of human rights online into conformity with international norms and standards.

They also urged the National Assembly to ensure that the Law that will emerge from the process is a strong piece of legislation that can effectively protect the rights of Nigerians on the Internet and in the digital environment.

The participants called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign Bill into Law as soon as it is passed by the National Assembly and sent to him for assent.

Participants at the workshop noted that the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill if passed into Law will provide a comprehensive legal framework for the advancement, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet and in the digital environment.

They further noted that if passed into Law, the Bill will effectively protect the rights of Nigerians on the Internet and in the digital environment, boost the innovative spirit of Nigerians and accelerate the country’s development in the digital age by enabling Nigerians to take maximum advantage of emerging opportunities online.

The participants commended the Nigerian Government for playing a leadership role on the digital rights issue globally when it co-sponsored in 2012 the landmark “Resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet” at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva along with Sweden, the United States, Brazil, Turkey and Tunisia as the Resolution provided the much needed guidance on how to protect human rights on the Internet through its affirmation that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”

The objective of the workshop was to improve the understanding of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill by representatives of civil society organisations, build their capacity to advocate for its passage in the National Assembly and increase civil society engagement in the ongoing legislative process on the Bill.

The workshop was addressed at its opening session by Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda, and Mr. Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, while Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant on Digital and New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, gave the Keynote Address on: “Protecting Human Rights Online in the Digital Age: Opportunities and Challenges”.

The workshop featured sessions on The State of Digital Rights and Freedom in Nigeria; Understanding the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill; Making the Case Against Network Disruptions in Africa; Effective Communications in Campaigns and Advocacy; Conducting Advocacy in the National Assembly; Building an Effective Coalition for Civil Society Engagement; among others.

 

 


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