At the technical drafting team meeting held on October 11 and 12, 2018, the group reviewed the Draft Technical Paper on Revision of Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa and provided guidance for the preparation of draft revised Declaration.
Participants comprising experts from organizations dealing with diverse Article 9 issues from across Africa, discussed extensive issues on the thematic areas and cross-cutting issues in the paper after the presentation of the draft technical paper.
While using the draft technical paper, and taking account of any other relevant information, the participants in three different themes (Freedom of expression and media rights, access to information and digital right) set out applicable general principles, applicable specific content and other issues that should be included in the Declaration.
The reference group at the end of the meeting identified some of the principle and content issues that require consideration.
Subsequently, it was agreed that the issues covered in the record of the meeting with the updated technical paper and the reports from the subgroups should serve as a guide in drafting the revised declaration and that it should be ready by early January 2019. Thereafter, the draft will be forwarded to the reference group for feedbacks. This will be followed by public and regional consultations within 3 months after the review before pushing it for adoption at the African Commission.
It will be recalled that Resolutions 362, 350 and 222 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2002 allow for the expansion of the scope and content of article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The mandate was on the special Rapporteur in conjunction with State parties, civil society, and other stakeholders to take note of this development in the internet age during the revision and expansion of the declaration to ensure that freedom of expression and access to information issues are included.
It was on this basis that the process of revising the Declaration of the Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa was initiated. This process for revising the Declaration began with the experts and stakeholders meeting convened by the Special Rapporteur in collaboration with MFWA, KICTANet, and MRA, on April 22, 2018, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, ahead of the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.