On 21-22 November 2015, EDRi participated in the African Union-European Union Civil Society Seminar on AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue in Kigali, Rwanda. Civil society representatives had the task of making recommendations on freedom of expression to the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU).
After two days of intensive discussions, the participants reached the conclusion that the EU and the AU had to at least deliver five priorities:
- Maintaining a strong and independent civil society, to put citizens to the centre of policy-making in both continents;
- Protecting “journalists’ and all actors’ of freedom of expression” and supporting media independence;
- Ensuring the right to information and “a culture of openness, as requirements for democracy, good governance and sustainable development”;
- Protecting human rights online;
- Ensuring the right to seek judicial redress.
Regarding the fourth recommendation to “ensure the protection of human rights in the digital age”, the African and EU civil society represented in Kigali called on:
“4.1. The AU and the EU to take steps to ensure full access to all of the Internet. The institutions must ensure that the population on both continents have affordable access to all of the Internet – not just parts of it – all of the time.
4.2. The EU and the AU to support the creation of better redress and appeal mechanisms for privacy and other digital rights violations, for example through national data protection authorities. Any government actions towards Internet intermediaries need to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld. Any restrictions to fundamental rights must be prescribed by law and be necessary and proportionate.
4.3. The AU and the EU to further develop institutional knowledge on digital rights issues within their policy-making. Regular digital rights training should become mandatory for the human rights contact points at EU missions and AU officials. Moreover, EU missions and AU institutions should allow for secure communication in situations and regions where this can be pivotal to the safety of individuals.
4.4. The AU and the EU to support human rights-enhancing technologies and ensure that exporting of surveillance technologies, by companies located in the EU and elsewhere, are regulated to ensure they are not misused. Further deregulation of cryptography at international and national levels, in particular in the Wassenaar Arrangement, and exemptions in the EU dual-use regulation through the mechanism of a General Export Authorisation for cryptography (GEA) is recommended.”
On 24 November 2015, these recommendations were officially presented to the AU and the EU by Omar Faruk-Osman and Jean-Marie Rogue on behalf of the EU-AU civil society. Good news is that both the EU and the AU welcomed and the recommendations, and decided to “support a Continental Conference on Freedom of Expression in 2016 based on the recommendations made by the civil society seminar”. We are now looking forward to seeing these recommendations put into practice, and to keep engaging in fruitful discussions so human rights are respected in both continents.
Recommendations: African Union-European Union Civil Society Seminar on the AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue (21-22.11.2015)
Joint-Comuniqué: 11th AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue 24 November 2015, Kigali, Rwanda (24.11.2015)
EEAS: 11th AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue 24 November 2015, Kigali, Rwanda (25.11.2015)
EDRi-gram: EDRi identifies key challenges to freedom of expression online (09.09.2015)
EDRi-member Access Now: Policy Brief on zero rating schemes
(Contribution by Maryant Fernández Pérez, EDRi)