The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition has issued a position paper on developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. Specifically, the AfDec Coalition in the paper, matched how African governments are responding to the pandemic against the principles enshrined in the AfDec Charter and made some recommendations that will ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld even as governments do their best to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. The following are the recommendations contained in the position paper:
- States should refrain from implementing laws, policies or other measures that constitute blanket limitations on the right to information.
- States and other relevant stakeholders must ensure that there are effective disclosures of credible information in a timely and effective manner, including through the establishment of zero-rated information portals, to enable the public to access vital information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
- States and other relevant stakeholders have a duty to create, keep, organise and maintain information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that facilitates the exercise of the right of access to information.
- States and other relevant stakeholders should proactively disclose information in the public interest relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in respect of the use of public funds or the performance of public functions or services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- States and other relevant stakeholders should ensure that information is conveyed in a range of different local languages, and formats that cater for people living with disabilities, to guarantee that all members of the population are appropriately informed and empowered by the information being communicated.
- States should ensure that the role of the media is protected, respected and promoted to ensure that they can perform their essential function in inform- ing and educating the public, as well as in ensuring accountability, including through providing the media with relevant information and enabling them to raise questions with relevant officials.