The role of African governments in the implementation of the Revised Declaration on freedom of expression online in Africa

freedom_of_expression

Authors: Imani Henrick, Bitebo Gogo, Ogah Peter Ejegwoya & Ayowole Olotupa-Adetona

The rights to freedom of expression, access to information and opinion are three distinct yet interconnected rights. The right to freedom of expression includes overt or covert communication through any medium including the Internet while access to information is being able to get information through any means. Both rights can be limited under international human rights standards. However, the right to opinion which is broader than both rights cannot be limited under international human rights standards.

This article identifies the role of African governments in implementing freedom of expression online. In doing so, it focuses on the provisions of the recent Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Revised Declaration) 2019.

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Parallel Rules: Overlap of Jurisdiction of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) with World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Meaza-Haddis-GebeyehuAuthor: Meaza Haddis Gebeyehu
Lecturer, Hawassa University, School of Law

It is very interesting how RTAs have increased in number and scope in recent years as manifestation of the new tendency towards regionalism at the expense of WTO’s multilateral arrangement. As of 15 October 2021, the WTO received 568 notifications of RTAs from its members and currently 350 RTAs are in force.[1] RTAs and their reciprocal preferential trade rules are in principle against WTO’s non-discrimination principles but they constitute one of the authorised exemptions under WTO. 

The fact that the Doha Development Round as a major multilateral trade negotiation under WTO has deadlocked for more than a decade gave RTAs the opportunity to be taken as important alternatives.[2] RTAs have proliferated not only in number but in the regions they cover and in the sectors of trade they apply to as well.[3] The rapid growth in the number of RTAs in recent years created two phenomena: (i) it undermines WTO’s non-discrimination principle as RTAs establish preferential rules among member states and hence generate the ‘spaghetti bowl’; and (ii) RTAs often institutionalise their dispute settlement mechanisms to address disputes arising with regard to the applications of these agreements. The possibility of potential conflicts of jurisdiction between the respective dispute settlement mechanisms might arise as RTAs include separate dispute settlement rules to deal with obligations of parties under these RTAs that are parallel or even similar to their obligations under the WTO covered agreements.[4]

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A quest for better protection: Sudanese women today

DuniaMekonnenTegegnAuthor: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human Rights Lawyer and Gender equality advocate

Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is regarded as a prevalent and critical hindering factor for human development and peace-building in Sudan. Prior to the revolution, Sudanese women used to face a daily risk of being arbitrarily arrested in public or private places for “indecent or immoral behavior or dress.” Public Order Police Officers in Sudan had the power to decide what is decent and what is not. In most cases women are arrested for wearing trousers or knee length skirts.[1]  Though in 2019, the transitional Sudanese government rescinded the public order laws that governed women’s presence in public spaces, resulting in arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, Sudan still needs to change other aspects of the public order regime that has a discriminatory effect on women.

Sudan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Though the Sudanese government approved the ratification of CEDAW and the African Protocol on Women’s Rights following years of demands from Sudanese women, the ratification of CEDAW came with reservations on the articles number 2, 16 and 1/29, which is a clear violation of the rule that prevents reservations that defeat the essential elements and goals of human rights covenants.

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On Indicator 16.3.3 of SDG 16.3 – Measurements of Civil Justice

Menelik-Solomon-MamoAuthor: Menelik Solomon Mamo
Consultant and attorney, Ethiopia

Access to Justice, as a component of the rule of law, is comprised of a number of elements that at its core means that individuals and communities with legal needs know where to go for help, obtain the help they need, and move through a system that offers procedural, substantive, and expeditious justice.  According to the World Justice Project’s (WJP) report, Measuring the Justice Gap, 5.1 billion people or approximately two-thirds of the world’s population are faced with at least one justice issue. It is evident that the majority of these justiciable matters that individuals face fall within the ambit of civil justice. The fact that individuals, especially those from developing countries, are surrounded by these problems while lacking access to justice to deal with them, form part of the dynamics that create and perpetuate poverty and inequality.

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The right to food and housing for Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): geographical distance does not forcibly mean different situations

Cristiano-dOrsi-2021Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg

Juan-Pablo-Serrano-FrattaliAuthor: Juan Pablo Serrano Frattali
Member of research group Social Anthropology of Motricity of the University of Granada

Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the countries with the largest population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South America and Africa, respectively, the third, and the second in the world (Syria heads the world ranking).[1] Internal displacement in Colombia constitutes a widely recognized phenomenon, having become an essential reference point for internal migration studies.[2] At the end of 2020, Colombia counted the highest number of IPDs in South America because of conflict and violence (4.9 million). In 2020, however, while Colombia counted 170,000 new IDPs, 106,000 of whom resulted from conflict and violence, Brazil counted 380,000 new IDPs, all due to natural disasters.[3] Violence continued in Colombia notwithstanding Covid-19 restrictions. Many combatants with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) disbanded and reintegrated into society after the 2016 peace deal,[4] but dissident factions have since emerged, and paramilitary groups continue to exercise significant territorial control.[5] The department of Nariño, close to Ecuador, has been historically a hotspot of conflict and displacement given its strategic location on drug-trafficking routes.[6]

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2021 local government elections, voter education and COVID-19 in South Africa

Author: Paul Mudau
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law at the University of South Africa

Local government is the sphere of government that is closest to the people and represents the front line of service delivery. Holding competitive, periodic, inclusive and definitive elections at the local level strengthens democracy. The competitive component of local democratic elections indicates that political party and ward candidates may criticise the party or coalition that governs the municipality, and other party and ward candidates openly. They may suggest alternative policies and candidates to voters. Decisions of locally elected representatives directly affects the local communities. Failure to satisfy voters may result in the governing local public representatives being voted out of office in the next (periodic) elections. On the other hand, good performance often comes with a reward, getting re-elected into office. Thus, ideally, conditions at the local level forces and entices locally elected public officials to accounts to the needs of local communities.

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The transitional national legislature is to be transformed into a constituent assembly to adopt the ‘permanent’ constitution of South Sudan, but what does this mean?

Joseph-Geng-AkechAuthor: Joseph Geng Akech
South Sudanese human rights lawyer and LLD candidate, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Introduction

The Republic of South Sudan embarked on its ‘permanent’ constitution building process which is a critical part of the peace process. The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) puts forward mechanisms and institutions for achieving such ambition. These institutions include the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC),[1] National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC), Preparatory Sub-Committee, National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the reconstituted transitional national legislature (Council of States and Transitional National Legislative Assembly) acting as a constituent assembly. The R-ARCSS establishes the above institutions with varying powers and degree of influence on the constitution building process.

This article focuses on the role of the reconstituted national legislature – bicameral chambers composed of Council of States and Transitional National Legislative Assembly. According to the R-ARCSS, these two houses of parliament are to be transformed into a Constituent Assembly to adopt, in a joint session, the Draft Constitutional Text passed by the National Constitutional Conference.[2]

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Shrouded in mystery: the Nigerian budget and the challenge of implementation

Abasiodiong-Ubong-UdoakpanAuthor: Abasiodiong Ubong Udoakpan
LLM Candidate, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria

The Budget as one important economic policy instrument at the disposal of the Government is key to the attainment of the economic prosperity of the people. However, the gap between its initiation and full implementation to attain economic prosperity has been of serious concern to researchers and Nigerians alike. It is one thing to propose a budget and another to implement the proposed budget to the extent that it attains the goals of economic growth and development. In recent times, the focus on the budget has assumed greater prominence because of increasing democratisation, civil society participation and the desire to respond to developmental challenges of poverty.

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To be a healthy democratic state, Ethiopia needs Stability through Peace and Security, Inclusive Development, and Good Governance.

Henok-KebedeAuthor: Henok Kebede
Lecturer, School of Law at Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is at a crossroads. Despite recorded double-digit economic growth for more than a decade, the arguably slight opening of the political space and the increasing awareness of citizens about their rights and duties, the absence of a clear path to democracy through an institutionally designed system put Ethiopia at the crossroad. Though Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to reform Ethiopia’s authoritarian state, recently, Ethiopia is going through a hysterical period of political uncertainties whereby one cannot easily venture where the country is heading. Some suggested that Ethiopia is on the right track to democracy, and Abiy Ahmed is playing the dominant role. Others reject the idea that Ethiopia is getting into democracy, saying the reform government is just as undemocratic as its predecessors; it is instead an ‘old wine in a new bottle’.   

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