DIGITAL rights should be treated with the same importance like human rights, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe has said.
This came out at a recent multi-stakeholder meeting on digital literacy convened in Maseru by MISA Zimbabwe.
The Lesotho meeting was the last of a series of others held in Zimbabwe Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi.
MISA Zimbabwe’s legal and ICT policy officer, Nompilo Simanje said the campaign is aimed at promoting digital rights in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Ms Simanje said they are also engaging policymakers, civil society organisations, journalists and content creators.
“Our objective is to ensure that different groups are fully capacitated as far as advocating for digital rights is concerned but also, this is an initiative to raise awareness on issues relating to digital rights in the target countries,” Ms Simanje said.
Apart from advocating for digital rights, the engagements were also meant to help MISA Zimbabwe understand the specific digital rights issues in the different countries.
“From the meetings that we have held, we intended to get inside knowledge, practical and contextual information on the digital rights issues which will then inform further interventions on the identified gaps as far as digital rights issues are concerned and what needs to be done going forward.
“We wish to see digital rights being viewed by different stakeholders to be just as important as other rights exercised offline. We want to get to a situation where stakeholders in different countries are fully cognisant and are fully appreciative that digital rights are merely human rights being exercised online and should be equally respected and protected by all.”
National University of Lesotho (NUL’s) Institute of Extra Mural Studies (IEMS) Research, Evaluation and Media lecturer Pheko Mathibeli said the meeting was vital as it equipped participants with knowledge on digital rights issues.
He said media practitioners and different stakeholders must sensitive to digital rights issues and start thinking of ways to increase literacy on the subject.
“From an institution of higher learning like the NUL, we are supposed to mainstream digital rights within the curriculum. We are supposed to support projects like this one by attaching students so that they too are sensitised on digital rights issues,” Mr Mathibeli said.