IGF 2023 WS #116 Impunity, Tech & killing of Africa's human rights defenders


Human Rights & Freedoms
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Ndongmo Kathleen, 🔒African Digital Rights Network

Speaker 1: David Hundeyin, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 2: Maseko Tanele, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Ingabire Victoire, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Oliver Barker-Vormawor, Civil Society, African Group


Ndongmo Kathleen, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Ndongmo Kathleen, Civil Society, African Group


Ndongmo Kathleen, Civil Society, African Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What actionable steps can civil society and democratic allies take to safeguard African journalists and human rights defenders against rising authoritarianism and impunity?
2. How can we effectively use secure communication tools and digital training to improve journalist safety in Africa, and what strategies can ensure widespread adoption?
3. How can we use AI and machine learning to better detect threats to journalists, and what ethical safeguards are needed to ensure unbiased, responsible use of these technologies?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants may offer their thoughts and experiences about:
The difficulties that African journalists face when it comes to digital security and source protection.
The current methods and effectiveness of using technology to protect journalists in Africa.
The potential of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to improve the safety of African journalists.
The ethical and privacy issues raised by employing technology to safeguard journalists, as well as how to reconcile the need for protection with the need to uphold human rights.
Collaboration and collaboration between journalists, technology, and human rights organizations to create and execute viable solutions for protecting African journalists.
The role of media organizations and governments in promoting and facilitating the use of technology to protect African journalists.
The difficulties associated with digital literacy in Africa and how to overcome them.
The possible impact of technology on free expression and information access.


In Africa, the year has started off rather disturbingly with impunity killings of journalists and human rights defenders. As if the effects of bad governance weren't debilitating enough, in Cameroon, we have crossed the line of humanity when a journalist is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, and a sitting minister justifies this killing by stating that this is what happens to journalists who fail to do their jobs properly. It is clear that African leaders and the ruling elite are unrepentant, and we too cannot relent as activists and advocates.

With journalists' plight in Africa getting more dire and human rights activists becoming more vulnerable, what can we do to ensure their collective protection? In what ways can technology ensure their safety? Can innovation prevent the murder of Africa's human rights defenders?

Expected Outcomes

The panel on safeguarding African journalists and human rights defenders via technology and innovation will foster awareness of their challenges, highlight their role in democracy and free information flow, and stimulate knowledge exchange. Key outcomes include development of policy recommendations spanning legal support, training, and resources, plus collaboration opportunities to collectively tackle safety issues. The panel will also advocate for the adoption of secure communication tools and advanced technologies like AI. Public awareness, advocacy, and engagement stemming from panel discussions will ultimately promote a safer environment for these crucial societal defenders.

Hybrid Format: We will foster meaningful interaction between onsite and online attendees and speakers through active facilitation, prompting questions from both online and onsite attendees during Q&A sessions. We'll also utilize the digital 'hand raise' feature for online attendees to interject during discussions, mirroring the dynamics of an onsite audience.

To ensure an optimal experience for all, we will design the session to include interactive elements at regular intervals. We'll use tools for real-time polling and Q&A, ensuring all participants' voices are heard.

The use of a dedicated event hashtag on social media platforms will further foster interaction, providing a shared space for online and onsite attendees to engage in the conversation beyond the session's formal proceedings. This not only increases interaction during the session but also continues the dialogue post-event, creating a truly inclusive and engaging event.