The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in partnership with the Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR), hosted delegates from 10 human rights institutions from Africa, Central Asia and Latin America between November 27 and 28, 2022. The peer-to-peer learning event, held on the margins of the Internet Governance Forum in Addis Ababa, was designed as an experience exchange platform between human rights institutions in terms of mainstreaming and/or enhancing their roles in promoting and protecting digital rights in their respective countries.

Designed as a facilitated workshop, the event saw participants from Chile, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Palestine, Peru, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. The purpose of national human rights institutions working in the area of human rights and technology, the methodologies for mainstreaming digital rights into other core programme areas as well as issues related to data protection and privacy were some of the issues the event dwelt on.

Opening the platform, EHRC Deputy Chief Commissioner Rakeb Messele, shared some of the Commission’s own achievements in the area. “EHRC has been regularly reporting on telecommunications blackouts due to destruction of infrastructure, deliberate attacks on civilian objects or internet shutdowns in all its monitoring and investigation work. The Commission has also documented and highlighted the impact of these blackouts on other rights and access to services: such as disconnection from family members, not being able to access crucial services like banking which in turn affects their ability to access food and health services for example.”

Line Gamrath Rasmussen and Catherine Bloch Veiberg from DIHR gave a presentation on relating UN system recommendations with technology and assessing risks and investigating human rights violations in the digital space respectively.

Participants also shared examples of their own use of digital technologies and their work in terms of protection of digital rights within their respective national contexts. Other event sessions dealt with the topics of indicator-based monitoring of digital rights and engagement with state and non-government stakeholders at the national level.

The event also plans to conclude with strategic and practical way forward including the development of action plans.