The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) launched the Annual 2021 Report on The State of Human Rights and Freedoms in Uganda at Kampala, Sheraton Hotel recently with a call on government to find remedies for human rights violations, which include cyberbullying, computer and social media misuse among others.
While launching the report, Mariam Wangandya, UHRC Chair highlighted computer and social media misuse including the dissemination of fake news, misinformation, and the distortion of facts on electronic media platforms among others. She said UHRC has written to various stakeholders in the IT sector to find lasting solutions to the rampant abuse of social media platforms across the country.
“Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), and National Information Technology Authority (NITA Uganda) should intensify efforts to increase public awareness concerning the use of social media, which should cover the rights and responsibilities of Ugandans in the use of social media platforms,” she said. Wangadya added that the ICT stakeholders mentioned above should develop a policy to articulate and address issues of online violence against women, including providing educational programmes aimed at finding lasting solutions for cyberbullying.
Crispin Kaheru, a member of UHRC said the Uganda Law Reform Commission should review the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2013, 166 and the Anti-Pornography Act 2014, 167, to address the overly restrictive provisions affecting the freedom of speech and expression. He said UCC should ensure that any blockage of digital services, such as the internet, is per National and International Human Rights Standards and should follow due processes.
“UCC should ensure that telecommunication companies adhere strictly to the right to privacy and issue clear guidelines on how personal information should be kept safe and secure,” he said.
Dr Zahara Nampewo, Makerere University Don, cautioned Ugandans against the irresponsible use of social media, particularly the internet. She said internet users should verify information generated by other platforms before sharing it to avoid the consequences of pornography and false information, which might cause disorder and violence. “A challenge we face today regards the lack of personal data protection, where fraudsters use information from telecom companies to access one’s mobile money pin codes,” she said, calling on government to put in place stringent measures to protect personal data.