Five journalists, seven activists and a blogger were arrested and harassed during the first quarter of 2020 for their publications online according to the Internet Rights Monitoring report on West Africa produced by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The report also recorded two elections-related internet disruptions.
All the violations recorded during the period under review were perpetrated by state security agencies and state officials.
Besides the incidents of digital rights violations, the report highlights and discusses the challenges confronting internet access and use in the region. It focuses on developments related to the promotion of inclusive digital rights, data protection issues, and capacity building on cybercrime prevention.
Regarding data policy and frameworks, the report notes that 11 countries in West Africa have enacted data protection laws. The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are the countries without data protection laws.
The report also discusses the fact-checking project launched by the MFWA to curb the spread of fake news on the internet regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report concluded with some recommendations for improving internet access and use in West Africa.
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