UN Council Reaffirms Online Rights and Freedoms

Kampala, 17th /08/2018; The Unwanted Witness Uganda welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution reaffirming partner states’ obligations towards observing online rights and freedoms of citizens.

The UN 38th Council session that sat in Geneva last month renewed its resolve to demand states and the business sector to fully respect online based rights of people as unequivocally as those offline.

The Council unanimously resolved that states are obliged to prevail over the Private sector in protecting online rights and moving effective remedies for internet related rights violations in accordance with their international obligations.

The Council further moved that encryption and other technical anonymity measures should be respected by the partner states, for the enjoyment of full rights of expression. This was made so specific for journalists and online bloggers to enable them protect the confidentiality of sources.

The resolution follows a set of complaints by over 50 Human Rights Defenders’ organizations and the civil Society about the insignificant nature of existing resolutions that would permit governments and Private Companies to grossly abuse online rights, users’ data protection and privacy of persons.

The new resolution recognizes that it’s a state responsibility to ensure online rights are adhered to, and it’s an obligation of private companies as well to enforce remedies to violations by following the established international policies and guidelines.

As a UN state party, Uganda has in recent years enacted legislations that curtail online rights and freedoms as a measure to curtail free expression. Laws like the Computer misuse act 2011, Anti-Terrorism act 2002, the UCC act 2013 and others have gone a long way in curtailing free expression online.

Several Telecom Companies and Internet Service Providers in Uganda lack the basic guidelines in relation to customers’ data protection, rights and privacy of subscribers.

Besides Uganda, several other countries have implemented repressive laws against citizens’ online rights including China, Turkey, Algeria Bahrain among others.