Joint Submission on Internet-related Human Rights Issues in Nigeria

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Por Fantsuam, Paradigm Initiative (APC)
, March 2013

This submission focuses on freedom of expression and freedom of information highlighting how the internet is being used to promote and protect human rights in Nigeria, and the danger to human rights posed by lack of protection for journalists in Nigeria.

A recent report on intermediate liability in Nigeria stated:

“The increased availability of internet access and telecommunication facilities has led to the democratisation of information, which has been further helped by the introduction of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act in 2011. The FoI law is increasingly becoming a popular legal channel for public information request in a country whose Official Secrets Act was often used to conceal public information. Public information is increasingly available online due to the role played by social media and other sharing platforms. This was a major contributor to the flow of information that led to the public protests that followed the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria in January 2012.”

Discussing a range of internet-related human rights issues, this submission recommends that the Government of Nigeria:

(a) Consider practical measures to affirm the HRC Resolution on freedom of expression and the
internet for example through active promotion and protection of internet related human rights,
so that in practice Nigerian citizens can enjoy the protection and promotion of their rights
online.

(b) Ensure constitutional protections make it clear that freedom of expression in Nigeria includes
internet related expression, in accordance with the Human Rights Council Resolution on
freedom of expression and the internet and General Comment 34 on Article 19 of the Human
Rights Committee.

© Ensure that internet access and internet related human rights issues are included in the National
Plan of Action on Human Rights.

(d) Ensure the speedy approval of the Broadband Plan (2013 – 2018) that has been developed for
Nigeria, and resume immediate implementation of the recommendations of the plan to improve
access, reduce cost, increase quality and connect more citizens to government services and
others online.

(e) Uphold the rights of Omoyele Sowore, the editor of Sahara Reporters, to safe unencumbered
passage whenever he chooses to return to or visit Nigeria.

(f) Continue to ensure the Freedom of Information Act is properly implemented.

(g) Extend laws intended to combat violence against women to include ICTs and violence against
women online.

(h) Continue efforts to support the National Human Rights Commission.

(i) Ensure that all new laws related to the internet comply with the recommendations of the Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and meet human rights standards.

(j) Reconvene national dialogue on internet intermediary liability and copyright law reform and
ensure that termination of internet access is not a penalty for violation of intellectual property
laws.

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