VOICES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights hosts panel on the future of Strategic Litigation for the protection of Digital Rights

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On the sidelines of the 2022 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights played host to an experts’ panel on the future of strategic litigation for the protection of digital rights. The panel was organized in collaboration with Unwanted Witness Uganda and the International Justice Clinic at the University of California Irvine School of Law.

The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) is an annual flagship event of the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), which convenes a broad spectrum of actors from across the internet governance and digital rights sector in Africa and beyond. Since 2014, the forum has provided a unique platform to “interrogate and discuss research, policy interventions, gaps, and opportunities across the continent” relating to digital rights. This year's forum was attended by experts from 38 countries and featured 21 topic tracks including access to information, artificial intelligence, business and human rights, cybercrime and strategic litigation for digital rights.

The panel on the future of strategic litigation for the protection of digital rights examined the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from digital rights litigation before domestic, regional, and international mechanisms, and it highlighted areas for further litigation. In his framing remarks, Ikechukwu Uzoma, staff attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, noted that, despite the successes of digital rights litigation, attacks and threats persist. “The last decade has witnessed a flurry of repressive legislation that seeks to suppress freedom of expression and opinion. New trends of regimes and laws mandating SIM card registrations and enrollment in digital ID programs with limited safeguards, illegal surveillance, use of malware to target journalists, activists and political opposition."

Taking the conversation further, Dorothy Mukasa, Chief Executive Officer at Unwanted Witness Uganda, highlighted the need for concerted efforts by civil society and other actors to ensure full implementation of decisions from digital rights cases. “Enforcement and implementation of decisions is currently low, and this waters down the impact of the courts on the continent. We must continue to bui