Strategic Litigation, an Answer to Preventing Internet Shutdowns?

Strategic Litigation, an Answer to Preventing Internet Shutdowns?

The 2017 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (#FIFAfrica17) was a great platform to learn more about the issues plaguing the African Internet space. The event was also a super platform to interact with some of Africa’s sharpest Internet activists and explore opportunities for collaborative interventions for advancing internet freedom on the continent.

From the Strategic Digital Rights Litigation training workshop, I learned how litigation can serve as a tool to promote and protect online rights in various African jurisdictions. It was also in this workshop that I learnt about the role of African Regional Courts in internet and information rights related matters which are referred to them by African nationals, as evinced by the case of Lohé Issa Konaté v. The Republic of Burkina Faso in which the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press were upheld.

I come from Zimbabwe where referral of cases to regional courts such as the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights is rare. In the past, Zimbabweans have successfully referred a land matter to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Tribunal. However, the government of Zimbabwe ignored the SADC Tribunal ruling and pushed for changes to be made to the SADC Tribunal. As a result, it is no longer possible for private SADC citizens to directly report State sponsored human rights violations to the SADC Tribunal. It was therefore, interesting to interact with session facilitators and participants who were conversant in the procedure involved in approaching other African regional and supranational courts.

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