South Sudan’s Cybercrimes and Computer Misuse Order 2021 Stifles Citizens’ Rights

By Edrine Wanyama |

South Sudan has enacted the Cybercrimes and Computer Misuse Provisional Order 2021 aimed to  combat  cybercrimes. The country has a fast-evolving technology sector, with three mobile operators and 24 licensed internet service providers. Investments in infrastructure development have propelled internet penetration to 16.8% and mobile phone penetration to 23% of the country’s population of 11.3 million people, which necessitates a law to curb cybercrime.

The Order is based on article 86(1) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011, which provides that when parliament is not in session, the president can issue a provisional order that has the force of law in urgent matters.

The Cybercrimes and Computer Misuse Order makes strides in addressing cybercrimes by extending the scope of jurisdiction in prosecuting cybercrimes to cover offences committed in or outside the country against citizens and the South Sudan state. The Order also establishes judicial oversight especially over the use of forensic tools to collect evidence, with section 10 requiring authorisation by a competent court prior to collecting such evidence. Furthermore, the Order attempts to protect children against child pornography (section 23 and 24), and provides for prevention of trafficking in persons (section 30) and drugs (section 31).

However, the Order is largely regressive of citizens’ rights including freedom of expression, access to information, and the right to privacy.

The Order gives overly broad definitions including of “computer misuse,” “indecent content,” “pornography,” and “publish” which are so ambiguous and wide in scope that they could be used by the state to target government opponents, dissidents and critics. The definitions largely limit the use of electronic gadgets and curtail the exercise of freedom of expression and access to information.

Article 22 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 guarantees the right to privacy. The country has ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that provides for the right to privacy under article 17 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, whose article 5 provides for the right to respect one’s dignity, which includes the right to privacy. The Order appears to contravene these instruments by threatening individual privacy.

Despite a commendable provision in section 6 imposing an obligation on service providers to store information relating to communications, including personal data and traffic data of subscribers, for 180 days – a period far shorter compared to other countries – personal data is still potentially at risk. The section requires service providers and their agents to put in place technical capabilities to enable law enforcement agencies monitor compliance with the Order. With no specific data protection law in South Sudan and without making a commitment to the leading regional instrument, the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, privacy of the citizens is at stake.

The section on offences and penalties lacks specificity on fines which may be levied on errant individuals or companies. On the other hand, some of the offences provided for under the Order potentially curtail freedom of expression and the right to information. For instance, the offence of spamming under section 21 could be interpreted to include all communications through online platforms including social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. Under the provision, virtually all individuals who forward messages on social media stand the risk of prosecution. This also has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to information.

The offence of offensive communication under section 25 potentially has a chilling effect on freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information. A similar provision under section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 of Uganda has been widely misused to persecute, prosecute and silence political critics and dissidents. Section 25 of the South Sudan Cybercrimes Order could be used in a similar manner to target government critics and dissidents. 

In CIPESA’s analysis of the Order, we call for specific actions that could ensure the prevention of cybercrime while at the same time not hurting online rights and freedoms, including:

  • Deletion of problematic definitions or provisions from the Order.
  • Enactment of a specific data protection law to guarantee the protection of data of individuals.
  • Urgent drafting of rules and regulations to prescribe the procedures for implementing the Order.
  • Ratification of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.
  • Service providers should not be compelled to disclose their subscribers’ information to law enforcement agencies except on the basis of a court order.
  • Amendment of the Order to emphasise the oversight role of courts during the processes of access, inspection, seizure, collection and preservation of data or tracking of data under section 9.

Read the full analysis here.

Date Extended: Applications Now Open for Round Five of the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF)

Call for Proposals |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is accepting proposals for the fifth round of the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF).

In this round, ADRF seeks to support initiatives in various thematic areas including but not limited to:

  • Access and affordability
  • Access to Information
  • Cybercrime
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Digital economy
  • Digital Identity (ID)
  • Digital security
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • eGovernance
  • Freedom of expression
  • Hate speech
  • Innovation for democratic participation, transparency and accountability (civic and social tech)
  • Misinformation/Disinformation
  • Network disruptions
  • Strategic litigation
  • Surveillance
  • Technology and Covid-19

Grant amounts range between USD 1,000 and USD 20,000, depending on the need and scope of the proposed intervention. The ADRF strongly encourages cost-sharing. The grant period will not exceed 10 months. It is anticipated that around 15 grants will be awarded in this round.

Launched in April 2019, the ADRF supports organisations and networks to implement activities that advance digital rights in Africa, including advocacy, litigation, research, engagement in policy processes, movement building, digital literacy and digital security skills building. 

To-date, the Fund has awarded USD 418,000 to 33 initiatives across the continent. In the inaugural round of ADRF, initiatives with activities spanning 16 African countries received a total of USD 65,000. The second call for applications saw a total of USD 152,000 awarded to 14 initiatives that are advancing digital rights through various projects in 18 African countries. In its third round, the ADRF awarded USD 138,000 to 11 initiatives responding to the digital rights fallout from the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The most recent and fourth round awarded USD 63,000 to eight current or previous grantees to deploy six-months policy advocacy campaigns that further the conversation on internet freedom in Africa. 

Grantees have also received technical and institutional capacity building support to further enhance their digital rights efforts and ensure sustainability. In this regard, CIPESA partnered with the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) for capacity building support in impact communications. CIPESA also partnered with Data4Change on data literacy and advocacy support.

Application Guidelines

Geographical Coverage

ADRF is open to organisations/networks based and/or operational in Africa and with interventions covering any country on the continent.

Size of Grants

Grant size shall range from US$1,000 to US$20,000. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged.

Eligible Activities

The activities that are eligible for funding are those that protect and advance digital rights. These may include but are not limited to research, advocacy, engagement in policy processes, litigation, digital literacy and digital security skills building.


The grant funding shall be for a period not exceeding 10 months.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The Fund is open to organisations and coalitions working to advance digital rights in Africa. This includes but is not limited to human rights defenders, media, activists, think tanks, legal aid groups, and tech hubs. Entities working on women’s rights, or with youths, sexual minorities, refugees, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • The initiatives to be funded will preferably have formal registration in an African country, but in some circumstances organisations and coalitions that do not have formal registration may be considered. Such organisations need to show evidence that they are operational in a particular African country or countries.
  • The activities to be funded must be in/on an African country or countries.

Ineligible Activities

  • The Fund shall not fund any activity that does not directly advance digital rights.
  • The Fund will not support travel to attend conferences or workshops, except in exceptional circumstances where such travel is directly linked to an activity that is eligible.
  • Reimbursements for costs that have already been incurred.
  • The Fund shall not provide scholarships.


The Fund is administered by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). An internal and external panel of experts will make decisions on beneficiaries based on the following criteria:

  • If the proposed intervention fits within the Fund’s digital rights priorities.
  • The relevance to the given context/country.
  • Commitment and experience of the applicant in advancing digital rights.
  • Potential impact of the intervention on digital rights policies or practices.

The deadline for submissions is now Friday June 25, 2021.  The application form can be accessed here.

Two Years of CIPESA’s Fellowship Programme

Fellows |
In 2017, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) introduced its fellowship programme. The media fellowship aims to raise media understanding of, and its effective and consistent reporting of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) -for-democracy issues in East Africa towards increased quality and regularity of reporting, as well as a greater diversity of voices, in coverage related to ICT, democracy and human rights.
The academia fellowship aims to nurture university students’ and early career academics’ understanding of ICT for governance, human rights and development. By engaging members of the academic community, the programme benefits partners of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network through placements of individuals with skills in fields such as ICT, mass communication, and informatics, within the partner organisations. Ultimately, the programme aims to grow links between the academic community and practitioners in the ICT field for mutual research, learning and knowledge exchange, so as to create the next generation of ICT for democracy and ICT for human rights champions and researchers.
Since its launch, six fellows representing east and western Africa, as well as Asia have participated in the programme, with a wide range of outputs including commentaries, broadcast content, multimedia content and journal articles. The learning and experiences of the fellows so far have informed CIPESA’s contributions to the to the curriculum review and development for a Masters in eGovernance programme at Makerere University. Furthermore, CIPESA’s engagements with the Makerere University Development Informatics Research Group on the role academics should play to contribute to the national and global development agenda, including through producing actionable knowledge, creating closer linkages with development practitioners and seeking ways to influence policy making.

Media Fellow Emmanuel Kajubu assessed the performance of elected leaders in Western Uganda, a year after they were voted into office. Many of them had committed to improve service delivery in education and health if they were elected.

Kajubu focussed on the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Ntoroko and Kamwenge, which form the Rwenzori region, and worked in collaboration with ICT4Democracy in East Africa partner Toro Development Network (ToroDev).
In interviews with the electorate, some members of the community said that after being elected, the leaders had not returned to consult them on issues affecting the community or fulfilled pledges made during campaigns. In response, many of the elected officials argued that they were constrained to carry out monitoring and supervision of government projects due to lack of funds.
His stories were published on the Uganda Radio Network website, an online news agency, and on the Toro Development Network website.

He also developed an eight-minute radio feature which summarised the views of the electorate and local leaders. It was broadcast on Hits FM Radio in Fort Portal on October 22, 2017. The radio station works with ToroDev and serves as a platform for the community in Western Uganda to air out issues affecting them and also for leaders to be accountable to the community.

Media Fellow Lilian Kaivilu is a multimedia journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya, with a keen focus on Innovations, Gender, Health, Business and Development stories.
Lilian works as a writing consultant with the World Bank Group and is also the founder of Impacthub Media, an online media platform that focuses on Development, Health and Innovation stories from Kenyan communities.
She has previously worked as a reporter for the Global Press Journal, Kenya News Desk. She has also worked as a Features reporter at Mediamax Network Limited (People Daily Newspaper), and as a sub editor at Shrend Publishers and Supplies Limited.
Lilian is a Bloomberg Media Initiative fellow (Strathmore Business School), Safaricom Business Journalism fellow (Strathmore Business School), Kenya Institute of Mass
Communication Journalism Graduate and a Linguistics, Media and Communication graduate from Moi University. In addition, she is currently taking Digital Capacity Building training by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is also pursuing the WAN-IFRA’s Media Management course.
For her fellowship tenure, in the run up to Kenya’s 2016 elections, Lillian covered stories on ICT for rural access to information, how ICT is transforming Nairobi’s Kibera slum, challenges to political participation by rural populations and local innovations in maternal health care.

Marvin Bwire, another fellow from Nairobi, Kenya worked to profile and raising awareness about female genital mutilation in Meru and empowering women in politics in Kenya through video.  He worked with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a member of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network.
Marvin is a film production graduate from the Multimedia University of Kenya and a practicing journalist. His work is built upon the pillar of the right to information for all and the use of ICT as an avenue to provide information to the public.

Wanjiru Mburu is an ICT4D researcher who is passionate about using ICT to bridge the healthcare digital divide in developing countries.
She holds a bachelors degree and masters degree both in Computer Science, and is currently a Ph.D. student at the ICT4D center, University of Cape Town. Her research interests are mainly in human-computer interaction for development (HCI4D) and mobile health fields.
For her fellowship, Wanjiru worked with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), to research how ICT platforms can be used to educate mothers of preterm infants on their health rights in Kenya. A journal article from this fellowship was accepted in the 6th International Conference on Mobile Communication Technology for Development (M4D2018) conference proceedings which was held in Kampala, Uganda in December 2018.
Sotheavin Doch holds a bachelor degree in Environmental Science and a masters degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience. She was a Research Assistant for the BBC Media Action in Cambodia and is a Research and Partnership Officer with Open Development Cambodia (ODC). She supports ODC’s team to promote and teach use of ODC’s site as an open data platform. She organises training for citizens citizen journalists local authorities and others stakeholders to access information of public services’ services/fee digitized on ODC’s website and also conducts training on ‘data-driven journalism’ to journalist students in Cambodia to generate and analyse data into their news reports to develop a new way of telling stories with data or evidence.
Sotheavin joined CIPESA as part of the South South Media Lab (SSMLab) in-residence program which aims at increasing networking and collaboration within the media sector between South-East Asia and East Africa. The residencies took place during November and December 2018.
As part of the fellowship, Sotheavin worked on the use of open data and open source technology to promote public service delivery. She also conducted a training for journalists on data-driven reporting methods, through engagements and needs assessments with ICT4Democarcy Network partners CIPESA, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) and Transparency International (TI) Uganda.
Tomiwa Ilori was hosted as a fellow by CIPESA as part of his Masters study in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the University of Pretoria. He undertook research related to his study in the area of constitutional law.
He contributed to CIPESA’s policy analysis work by researching and producing commentaries on How Nigeria and Uganda are Faring on the Right to Information and consumer protection.
Tomiwa has experience working on digital rights in Nigeria and was also in charge of ongoing strategic litigation suits with respect to digital rights infringement in Nigeria by Paradigm Initiative. He is the coordinator of the NetRights Africa Coalition.

CIPESA in 2014

In 2014, we continue to work to promote the inclusiveness of the information society. Under four thematic areas (Internet Governance, ICTs for Democracy, Online Freedoms and Open Data & eGovernance), our projects this year span 8 countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda).  Highlights of our focus, activities and partners are summarised here.


CIPESA, A Snapshot

In 2013, we continue to work to promote the inclusiveness of the information society. Under three thematic areas (Internet Governance, ICTs for Democracy and Open Data & eGovernance), our projects this year span 6 counties (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa and Uganda).  Highlights of our focus, projects and activities are summarised here.