A call for strengthening of human rights in the digital age

Written by on April 19, 2021



Paradigm Initiative (PIN) the Digital Human Rights Lab(DHRL) successfully held its 8th edition of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) 2021 attracting over 50 policymakers, human rights defenders, and a number of stakeholders.


The event was held on 14th April 2021 at the Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi in the country’s capital Kampala as part of a continental dialogue and gathering of over 400 delegates from 42 countries — including 32 African countries.


The forum comes at a time when most countries are finding their digital momentum while working towards a world beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. DRIF21 has been hosted annually since 2013 but in 2020. COVID-19 disrupted the plan to host an in-person event.


The session in Kampala, Uganda was hosted and sponsored by the Digital Human Rights Lab, a co-creation project strengthening digital human rights work in Uganda through innovative and tailor-made digital approaches, continuous collaboration, and digital advocacy.


The forum saw the Digital Human Rights Lab focus on best practices and exchanging perspectives on how to strengthen the effectiveness of human rights through the use of digital innovation competencies and instruments. During the interactive session, human rights defenders, civil society, the private sector, and policymakers were brought together to also discuss the risks and opportunities for human rights work in East Africa, in particular Uganda.


When it comes to making digital tools, a lot of minority communities are left behind, Sex workers and Persons with Disabilities are not planned for or included in the solutions that we are using right now. It’s time for things to change, we’d love to call for inclusion that shall be designed with rather than for us, noted Herbert Ayesiga the Communities of Practice Lead on Digital Inclusion


Furthermore, drawing from learnings from the Digital Human Rights Lab’s Communities of Practices and projects, the discussions focused on practical digital models of including and protecting the rights of minority and marginalized groups. Poll questions were also integrated into the session to facilitate engagement and adapt discussions to address the specific interests of participants.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage the globe, activities at the forum were also broadcast via video conference different online channels as well as recording the Forum presentations and panel discussion on the day.


Marginalised communities in Africa have become more alienated from the world. Those who migrated online for basic amenities of life such as online learning and health consultations were virtually connected. Many have been left behind at a time when digital rights are dearly an enabler for the fulfillment of human rights. We need to deliberate on bridging the digital divide in our African countries and share insights on protecting the digital space. said Thobekile Matimbe. PIN’s Community Manager.



“We are grateful to the DRIF21 sponsors; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Ford Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Omidyar Network, and the Open Society Initiative for Western Africa for working with us to deliver our most ambitious Forum yet and are pleased to welcome all details and everyone else who will watch the live broadcast of sessions to an exciting DRIF21 experience”  Nnenna Paul-Ugochukwu. PIN’s Chief Operating Officer.


Hosted as a hybrid event with physical events in twelve African countries and many virtual sessions from April 12 through 30th April 2021, DRIF21 will bring together diverse experts to shape conversations around digital policy, digital inclusion, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, Internet access, and many other thematic areas.


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