Between October 4th- 5th , Ngetha Media Association for Peace conducted 2 days digital security training for 10 human rights defenders from different organisations in the Albertine region of Uganda. The training took place in the West Nile regional city of Arua . Thanks to the financial support from the Civil Rights Defenders via the Unwanted Witness Uganda
A total of 10 human rights activists , including independent bloggers and female journalists participated in the training workshop.
The training was intended at equipping local HRD’s with skills and digital tactics to enable them work safely by making to them available the latest security tools to support their human rights activism work and also to help them keep their privacy securely.Many of the participants were first time attending the digital security training.
Ngetha Media Association for Peace trainer Agenonga Robert took participants through the following topics ;Email encryption, Using secure mobile apps,Protecting their online communication platforms through using strong passwords and using password managers, Protecting their devices against malwares, viruses, etc, Enabling two factor authentication on Gmail as well as on Facebook, How to circumvent Internet shutdown by using apps such as VPNs, etc
The Albertine region of Uganda comprises of the districts of Hoima, Buliisa,Masindi, Nwoya, Pakwach, Nororoko, Nebbi, Arua , Zombo and Nkyakwanzi among others. In recent months , cases of kidnappings, intimidation, harassment, assaults, aggressions and violence against human rights and environmental activists , journalists and media workers as well as pro-democracy activists in the region covered by the training have increased at an alarming rate, especially during this time when Uganda is preparing to start Oil drilling . Ngetha Media Association for Peace press freedom statistic reports collected between May and September 2018 indicates that a total 20 Human rights defenders working across the region have received threats from security personnel, politicians, companies and influential people linked to severe ongoing human rights abuse and environmental degradation taking place in the entire Albertine region .Other Human rights defenders were assaulted, maimed, silenced and threatened with death messages.
Most cases of violation against human rights defenders remain unresolved due to the lack of credible investigation and prosecution processes an engrained culture of state impunity. The failure to prevent the threats and attacks on human rights defenders means that the Ugandans Authorities are depriving citizens of a fundamental human right, the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas without frontier, which is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Civil and Political Rights (Article 19) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Article 9). The violations also affect the protection and realization of other fundamental rights and the democratization process. However, there is limited public awareness in the Albertine region of Uganda about the scale of the problem and its impact on the protection of fundamental human rights and consolidation of democracy and good governance. Currently, there are no specific formal or informal protection mechanisms for human rights defenders. Most of the defenders operate in remote areas and in competition with each other, thereby losing opportunities to build professional solidarity as the first line of defense.
Because Ngetha Media Association for Peace recognize the need for safety and protection training needs assessment for target human rights defenders in the selected districts of the Albertine, Ngetha Co-facilitated this digital and safety training for human rights defenders in the Albertine region . Human rights defenders in this region still lack safety and protection despite the frequency of threats and violence from multiple sources. This training specifically used a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to provide protection to human rights defenders at risk from selected districts in the Albertine rift.
The target group for the training was classified into one broad category being the primary beneficiaries constituting 10 human rights defenders from six districts of Buliisa, Hoima, Masindi, Pakwach, Nebbi and Arua .
Ngetha Media Association for Peace Trainer and senior researcher Agenonga Robert told the participants that they are required to transfer knowledge and skills they have learned during the two days gathering in Arua to their colleagues since a joining of hands and sharing capacities and information among human rights defenders and journalists will ensure that violations of freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information are recorded and used nationally, regionally and internationally to advocate for safety and protection of human rights defenders in digital age.