IGF 2018 WS #139 Refugees digital rights: Necessities and Needs

Salle VIII

Organizer 1: MOHAMED FARAHAT, EGYPTIAN FOUNDATION FOR REFUGEE RIGHTS and African Civil Society on information Society (ACSIS)
Organizer 2: Cisse KANE, ACSIS

Speaker 1: MOHAMED FARAHAT, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Xianhong Hu, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Martian Jones, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Rasha Elshehawy, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Additional Speakers

Modarator : Ian Brown
Ian Brown is Head of Research and Lifelong Learning, Digital Skills and Inclusion
Team at the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Before that he was Professor and Associate Director of Oxford University's Cyber
Security Centre and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute until
2016. His work focuses on technology and public policy related to Internet
privacy and security. He has worked as a consultant for the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime on their study of global cybercrime. For the OECD, he
co-authored with Peter Sommer the 2010 report "Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk". His most
recent books are Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the in the Information Age
(with Christopher T. Marsden) and Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet.

Ciss Kane : Speaker

Cissé Kane, from Senegal, is and international consultant on development issues. He
holds a PhD in geography and a master degree in information systems. He has more than
12 years experience on ICT developpement issues, including project and program
management in african countries (ICT and decentralisation, digital education, ewaste
management, etc.), advocacy, financing ICT for developpement, international
negotiations, at UNITAR, the DSF and as Civil Society member.
Since the beginning, Cisse has been involved in the WSIS processus as fouding member
of various ICT NGO's Secretary General of Diaspora ICT NGO's in Geneva, Vice-Chair
and Chair of ACSIS the Panafrican network on ICT4D.
Cisse is based between Senegal and Switzerland and speaks French, English, arabic
Pulaar and Ouolof and a bit of Dutch.

Aicha Jaridi

Online Moderator

Amin Hacha


Hago Defallaha


Round Table - 60 Min


All the speakers invited are range from civil society, international organization (UNESCO, UNHCR), academia and Refugees. some of the speakers invited to workshop have extent mixed experience in refugee rights , human rights and in internet governance . Additionally, some of other speakers have a long experience in related refugees issues. According to the area of experience of each speakers , the speakers will address one of the agenda topics. The panel will include representative from UNESCO and UNHCR who already confirmed their participation, in addition will include speaker from NGOs who are expertise in Internet governance and academic person who specialists in refugee rights.in addition to lawyer who is specialized in refugee rights and internet governance. As the workshop will address the refugees digital rights , we cannot exclude refugees themselves from the discussion , the add value to the workshop to hear to the refugees voice as there will be online participation from refugees community to know their perspectives. Some of speakers have experience with IGF as speakers in IGF workshops.


The session will gear towards a multi-stakeholder representative panel that will bring new voices and dynamic individuals to the fore. Key stakeholder groups pertaining to the issue of digital rights will be represented, such as civil society (which represents the user views), academia, international organization and government . In addition to this, we have found it important that the panel give an opportunity to refugees to make their voice heard and to strategically think of solutions for the internet issue that they are currently facing. Gender, national and age diversity is are equally incorporated, by having young leading females on the panel and representatives from different countries(Egypt, Somalia , Canada, Senegal . Current speakers (confirmed & unconfirmed) of the session include: 3 females 3 males 3 African countries represented 3stakeholder groups 50% speaker being youth who are leading in their career and work in internet policy

All digital rights ( access to information , freedom of expression , freedom of association etc.,), are basically human rights in the internet and digital era that founded and protected under international human rights instrument particularly the human rights declaration ,(ICCPR) international Convention for civil and political rights , (ICESCR ) International Convention for Economic , Social and Culture Rights. as well as the regional human rights conventions such as African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, under the African Union. Access to internet should not be a luxury provided to specific category of persons and dismissed from others , enjoyed by all people on equal basis, especially in spot of increasing resort to technologies which invaded peoples ‘lives it should be a right , especially in spot of increasing conduct our lives online particularly the right to privacy and freedom of expression are becoming more important. For refugees Connectivity is not a luxury, It should definitely be a lifeline . The digital rights are very important for refugees in host countries , of course combined with online freedom of expression especially in light of restrictions on the right of assembly and establishing NGOs in host countries, and in light of restrictions imposed by hots countries and complex of family reunification procedures which reach to deprivation . The internet and social media, become the last resort for refugees to exercise their right to Communication, access to information and connect with family members .It is becoming in fact a right to exist. In light of what is mentioned above the most important question is” what is the legal framework that ensure refugees enjoy their right to access to internet ?To what extent the current legal framework still relevant to ensure their (Safely) access to Internet and their online rights? For these vulnerable populations connectivity can be vital to maintaining family connections, staying informed and secure , supporting economic self –sufficiency and organizing and educating themselves. Access to internet and technology Therefore internet and technology should be available, affordable , usable and stable. Access to the internet and mobile telephone services has the potential to create a powerful multiplier effect, boosting the well-being of refugees and of the communities that host them. In education. Connectivity would enable refugees to take part in online training courses and access education remotely—and, for refugee students at the secondary and university levels, it will enable them to continue their disrupted education. Without connectivity, millions of displaced children won’t get the education to improve their skills and knowledge, to prove themselves to become the doctors, teachers and future leaders of their communities. In Livelihoods / self-reliance. Besides, Connectivity would make it much easier for refugees to create and sustain their own businesses, as well as make remote work possible, which will be particularly important in situations in which there are constraints on the right to work or limited opportunities in the local economy. So the question will be addressed during the workshop , “To what extent access to internet is important for refugees , what the impact of access to internet and connecting could occur in refugees rights , how access to internet could change the refugees life in host or resettlement countries. For the access to education and economic opportunities the let us ask about “How Internet and Mobile Connectivity can Improve Refugee Well-Bein? How Refugees’ rights to connectivity could ensure their access to education? Furthermore,Technological advances – in particular mass internet access – have made it increasingly easy in recent years for small political organizations and diaspora groups to publicize their own political agendas, even when such agendas are niche rather than representative. Yet the proliferation of diaspora websites is simply the contemporary form of a much more continuous connection between politics and exile. (Katy Long, Voting with their feet , A review of refugee participation and the role of UNHCR in country of origin elections and other political processes(Geneva: United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR), September 2010) Nevertheless,the political situation makes the issues related to internet is sensitive ones which increased the Censorship on the means of social media and breach the Freedom of Expression through banning,the electronic sites ,banning certain websites and prosecuting the online human rights activists and online rights and freedoms has been compromised by state censorship. It is equally , worth noting that, neither key international refugee conventions, the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor its 1967 Protocol contain any reference to the connect, information rights of refugees. So, another question urges an answer that what is “The impact of refugee’s digital rights on refugee international protection?” The role of united Nation High Commissioner for refugees -UNHCR is vital to ensure all refugees and Internal displaced persons IDPs have access to all their digital rights. The speakers will address the all questions rose above and discuss the answers with other participants Session agenda (subject to minimal changes) will address the following: 1.Legal Framework of digital rights of refugees 2.Refugees’ rights to connectivity and access to education 3.How Internet and Mobile Connectivity can Improve Refugee Well-Bein 4. Impact of online rights on international protection. 5.Role of UNHCR to ensure and enhance refugee’s right to access to Internet 6.Open floor discussion

Format: Round table The purpose of the session is to be very interactive yet informative. The duration of the session will be 90mins roundtable discussions broken down in the following: 10mins opening remarks/introduction from speakers 45min panel discussion with moderator probing 35min open floor discussion with periodic intervals for remote participants The round table will be in such a way that the audience/participants and the speakers will sit in one large round table with individual microphones per chair on the table. This set up allows for an open and equal space for dialogue and emphasizing that panel speakers are not more important than the audience. Also it will give room for ease of debate and discussions, where audiences will have a microphone near to them. There will be a dedicated answer and question period, where during this time, participants and panel speakers are free to talk about the content of the session in length. More time will be given to open floor

Refugee issues has become global: Refugees Today, are counting more than 65 million people – the largest number in decades - are living as refugees or are internally displaced, uprooted from their homes in search of safety, and often struggling to access the basic means of survival. But displaced people are also living without the connectivity they need to obtain vital information, communicate with family , friends and loved ones, access basic services and to link to the local, national and global communities around them. The locations in which they live frequently lack digital networks and infrastructure, or even if the internet access connectivity has provided and be available there is too expensive. It seems though that the digital revolution transforming the world is leaving refugees behind. The recently completed global assessment of this issue indicates that while seven per cent of refugee communities lack the requisite digital infrastructure for internet access and mobile communications, most refugees in urban areas live in places that have 2G or 3G mobile coverage. For those in rural areas, however, the situation is far worse, with 20 per cent living in areas with no connectivity. The assessment also found that refugees often spend up to a third of their disposable income on staying connected – highlighting the main obstacle to refugee connectivity: cost. Globally, refugees are 50 per cent less likely than the general population to have an internet-enabled phone, and 29 per cent of refugee households have no phone at all. Having to live offline means that contact and communication with loved ones is difficult and often impossible. Without access to up-to-date information on events back in their home countries as well as in their countries of asylum, refugees cannot access basic services such as health and education or make informed decisions on how to start improving their lives. A lack of connectivity constrains the capacity of refugee communities to organize and empower themselves, cutting off the path to self-reliance. It also constrains the potential for transformative innovation needed in humanitarian assistance at a time when such change has never been more necessary. The Importance of the proposed workshop: 1. It will be the first time to bring "Refugees" rights to IGF's agenda as specific and separate topic. 2. the importance of digital rights has special and significant important for refugees , access to digital rights has significant impact on refugees life. 3.The digital rights for refugees is related and cross cutting issue with many of SDG specially Goals 5.b , 8-3,9.c and 16.10. 4. The outcome of this workshop will be used to handle in depth a specific related topics during the upcoming IGFs , and used as nucleus to make refugees digital rights a permanent topic in IGF agenda .

Online Participation

The workshop will have 2 online interventions one from Refugee to tell about the importance of the internet in his life in the country of asylum and how the internet impact on his life. other online intervention will be from academic professor from York University who are specialist in refugees rights and human rights in general


Agenda: 60 Minutes  

Opening of the session (5 minutes)

Opening statement by the Session Moderator  

Explaining  the  objectives of the session by the moderators and Proposer 

Objective: To explain the agenda of the session and the way it will be carried out.

Setting the issues (45 minutes)

Objective1: Legal Framework of refugees digital rights and it relevance  (7 Minutes )

(Legal framework, definition of refugees ,,status of 1951 convention ,  )

This part of session will responds on question, does the current legal framework is relevant to ensure refugee have access to digital rights? 


Objective 2: Refugees digital rights and access to education (7 Minutes )

(ICT and access to education ,  refugees and access to education in context of ICT opportunities and needs  .


Objective 3: ICT and refugees economic empowerment and self-resilience (7 Minutes )

(Technical needs , governments role and cooperation needed )

Objective 4: UNHCR role in the context of Refugees digital rights (7 Minutes )

Objective 5: Government role in refugees inclusion , empowerment  and participation (7 Minutes )

Specially in Education and Health sector

Objective 6 : Voice of Refugees ( refugees participation : how digital right change refugees life (5 minutes)

Open discussion and conclusion in the end of session (10 minutes )


Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

- Session Type: Roundtable


- Title:  Refugees digital rights :Necessities and Needs


- Date: 11 th Nov,2018

Time: 12:20 -1:20


- Organizer(s):

Egyptian Foundation For Refugees Rights (EFRR)

 African Civil Society on information Society (ACSIS)


- Chair/Moderator: Mr. Ian Brown


- Rapporteur/Notetaker:


- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):


1. Mohamed Farahat(Male) Egyptian Foundation For Refugees Rights (EFRR) & African Civil Society on information Society (ACSIS)

2. Ms. Xianhong Hu (Female) (UNESCO)

3. Dr. Cisse Kane (Male) African Civil Society on information Society (ACSIS)

4. Aron Martain PhD Research Fellow in Data Ethics,Tilburg Law School



- Theme (as listed here):  Human Rights, Gender & Youth


- Subtheme (as listed here): Refugees                                    


- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]


For refugees Connectivity is not a luxury. The digital rights are very important for refugees in host countries , to what extent the exited legal framework is relevant to ensure refugees digital rights ?


In education. Connectivity would enable refugees to take part in online training courses and access education remotely—and, for refugee students at the secondary and university levels, it will enable them to continue their disrupted education. Without connectivity, millions of displaced children won’t get the education to improve their skills and knowledge


In Livelihoods / self-reliance. Besides, Connectivity would make it much easier for refugees to create and sustain their own businesses, as well as make remote work possible, which will be particularly important in situations in which there are constraints on the right to work or limited opportunities in the local economy, and to what extent  access to internet could change the refugees life in host or resettlement countries.


- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [150 words]


Mr Mohamed Farahat, Lawyer, Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights and African Civil Society on Information Society (ACSIS), said that the main challenge for refugees in any county is limited access to the Internet and to education, which makes it impossible for families to reunite. Access to the Internet is the last resort for displaced people to communicate about important issues and challenges in both the host and the county of origin. Farahat added that the one of main legal challenges in the same context is the impact of national digital crime legislation on the refugees international protection which could lead to deport refugees back to their country of origin which could put them in the riske of torture or and kill .  


Mr Ciss Kane, Chair, African Civil Society on the Information Society (ACSIS), stated that there is an ongoing debate about the relationship between the rights online and the rights offline, but, ‘all the rights offline should be also implemented online’. Kane noted that for refugees ‘the Internet is a luxury when in most of the cases they do not have clean water, toilets, cannot settle’. He suggested that the use of ICTs is probably the best way to ‘weight on the processes’ related to refugees in order to ‘make them have their own rights in all aspects’. The year 2019 will be ‘the year of refugees and displaced persons’. He reminded about the importance of access and cost-effectiveness, and the local content. ‘Sometimes they don't have a penny to have connection and they need to be in touch


Ms Xianhong Hu, Assistant Programme Specialist, UNESCO, noted that UNESCO is advocating for the Internet, fundamental principles, and information to be developed based on human rights that should be accessible by all. Hu noted that she thinks that digital rights need to be equally applied to refugees. ‘When a refugee comes to a country, they first have to ask for water and a shelter, but then they ask for a WiFi and a connection.’ She stated that the ICT and the Internet are central to satisfying refugees’ basic needs and address their well-being. She mentioned the following rights to keep in mind when we talk about refugees digital rights: freedom of expression, freedom of information, privacy and personal data protection. She said that barriers in using the Internet need to be removed for both women and children.

Mr Aaron K. Martin, PhD Research Fellow in Data Ethics, Tilburg Law School, joined the session via video link. He noted that it is crucial for refugees to be able to register for their own SIM card when in a foreign country, and to use bank cards. In Bangladesh, refugees are forbidden to have a SIM card and are even being imprisoned if found with one in their possession.


- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [100 words]

1. Farahat  recommended ‘amending the 1951 Convention’ by adopting new instruments which would relate specifically to rights of  forced displaces people in connection to the digital rights.

Ms Xianhong  recommended that following rights to keep in mind when we talk about refugees digital rights: freedom of expression, freedom of information, privacy and personal data protection. She said that barriers in using the Internet need to be removed for both women and children.


- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]


- Please estimate the total number of participants.

35-40 persons out of 45 available places in the room , the session had a full room by participants


- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

60% women and 40 % men


- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]

The gender issues has discussed during the session , Ms Xianhong  has shed lighted on this issues the main discussion point on that regard was about if there is specific statistic about the gender balance in context of refugees digital rights specially access to internet. The gender issues has covered during the session from other aspect when of audience spoke about the importance to consider  the livelihood component when speak about refugees digital rights , in this issue there was agree between the participants digital rights and access to internet is vital for refugees women specially for single mothers specially in the case of access to work being not allowed for refugees in host country , as women could start their own work and projects through internet , So the recommendation was it is very important to secure   access to internet for women refugees.