Speaking at the 6th commemoration of Human Rights Defenders day themed claiming and protecting online civic space for promotion and protection of human rights in Tanzania, THRDC national coordinator, Onesmo Olengurumwa, called upon human rights defenders, mobile companies, internet providers to come together and tell the government on the need to develop regulatory framework for data protection in the country.
“Until January 2019 a total of 24 African countries have already adopted a regulatory framework for the protection of data. This is the right time to reconsider this fact because in Tanzania with a population of 52.6 million whereby 23 million (45 per cent) are internet users and social media subscribers. This proves how every one of need the data protection need act” said Olengurumwa.
He asserted that with role of internet in advancing the livelihood of its citizens, provision of education, protection and promotion of human rights in Tanzania, the government ought to create enabling environment and encourage the use of online media to enable smooth transfer of information.
“Recently there have been emerging some challenges in using online media in Tanzania. The presence of laws and policies which limit online freedoms and some other practices which in one way or the other limits freedom of expression through online media” added Olengurumwa.
Vicky Ntetema, chairperson of the THRDC board, said that civil societies in conjunction with Human Rights Defenders play a significant role in the social-cultural and economic development in Tanzania. Despite all challenges they face from authorities, restrictive legislation and elsewhere, she said these two bodies have stood in protecting and promoting human rights.
“I hope that from today’s negotiations with all key stakeholders, some if not all of these challenges will have a solution,” said Ntetema.
As a part of celebrations, THRDC recognized and awarded outstanding online human rights defenders and online human rights defenders supporters for the previous year as a way of amplifying the voice of human rights defenders in different categories.
The founder and executiveb director of JamiiForums Maxence Melo, received a recognition certificate for defending online freedom of speech in Tanzania for 2018, an international non-profit organization, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free internet Access Now was recognized for championing digital rights globally in 2018.
The collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) was recognized for championing internet freedom in Africa, Friday Simbaya owner of Tumbusi Blog and Online Tv was recognized for defending human rights through online blogging, Maria Sarungi through her online campaign Change Tanzania was recognized for defending human rights through the twitter platform.
The rest are Millard Ayo recognized as distinguished champion of online TVs in Tanzania, Salma Said investigative journalist for radio Deutsche Welle (DW) through the program Mbiu ya Mnyonge was recognized as distinguished human rights defender through the facebook platform and the Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd through its National Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) was recognized for championing reliable internet access in Tanzania.