Researcher On Cyber Crimes In East Africa at American Bar Association (ABA)

The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is implementing a project titled, “Promoting Freedom of Expression, Rule of Law and Access to Justice in East Africa, with a focus on Uganda and Tanzania.” The project was developed as a response to an emerging trend of States curtailing legitimate work of human rights defenders, limiting freedom of expression, and narrowing the space for civil society and the media. This has been under the guise of safeguarding state sovereignty and security, where Governments are placing unnecessary and debilitating restrictions on fundamental human rights; right to civic engagement, media freedom and civil society space particularly freedoms of assembly, association and expression.

To this end, ABA ROLI seeks to recruit a researcher to undertake study on cyber-crimes. Given the common trends in the region, the researcher will also seek to make linkages to regional trends and highlight strategies that can be taken at the regional level to promote reforms. The research will consider, among subjects: legal and policy frameworks on cybercrime laws; practice and contextual operating environment; regional context and overview with a focus on challenges and opportunities for advancing/protecting freedom of expression and civic space through regional approaches and mechanisms.


The digital space has altered communication patterns with the internet and social media in particular serving as the predominant arena for public communication and discourse, often giving ordinary citizens forum in which to voice their opinions that they previously lacked. The emergence of e-commerce has also created business opportunities and convenience for citizens, while at the same time opening up the space for crime and the possibility of compromising citizens’ data security. Ultimately, Governments are compelled to enact legislation to regulate the online and digital space in order to prevent crime and protect citizens. In the process, though, the online and digital rights of citizens must be similarly protected as Governments enact such laws.

The reality, however, is that many countries have are planning to introduce cybersecurity laws that could potentially threaten the rights to free speech, expression, association, access to information and privacy, amongst others. Internet shutdowns in particular during elections and during public protests and demonstrations are becoming common place. State surveillance in cyberspace as well as private spaces is on the increase, limiting civic space for engagement and critical opinion, and further curtailing an enabling environment for such engagement. In addition, defamation laws such as those meant to protect Heads of State and other senior Government officials from scrutiny and criticism have been invoked to limit public debate on social media regarding governance, democracy and human rights. Laws to protect the integrity of e-commerce have been used to prevent non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders from opening and operating bank accounts and from transacting, thereby curtailing their work. All these issues have brought to the fore the debate about the need for States to balance the regulation of the digital/online space or prevent online crime and the promotion and protection of citizens’ digital/online rights.


In light of the above, the ABA ROLI is seeking the services of a consultant to analyze the East Africa (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya) Legal Framework on Computer Crimes and Cybercrimes, and the practice and the implications of this framework on East Africa citizens’ digital/online rights. The researcher will examine the context and patterns of utilizing legal and policy framework on cybercrimes to cause repression, and undertake comparative analysis of legal and policy frameworks, gaps, opportunities, strategies and measures to address the challenges the practice. The Consultancy is intended to produce a study highlighting emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities to inform interventions by key stakeholders and policy makers at both the national and regional levels.

Specific Objectives

• To document the experience, current trends and recent developments in the area of cybercrimes in East Africa with a particular focus on Uganda and Tanzania;

• To highlight the impact of cybercrimes legal and policy framework on the enjoyment of rights in particular that of HRDs, media and NGO sector;

• To analyze the political, legal, judicial and institutional environment context at the national level to identify gaps and opportunities for constructive engagement, advocacy or litigation

of cybercrimes;

• To provide an overview of the regional legal framework and mechanisms with respect to cases related to cybercrimes (analysis of jurisprudence and impact in region) and identify the gaps and opportunities for advocacy and litigation at the regional level;

• To identify opportunities, lessons learned and make recommendations on how East Africa countries can employ strategic actions at the national and regional levels. Recommendations should target the AU member states, the regional/international mechanisms, media, and civil society as key stakeholders.


The consultancy will last for Thirty five (35) working days.


The following are the expected deliverables during the consultancy period:

Inception report detailing the consultant’s understanding of the assignment and the methodology to be employed to accomplish the task with a work plan with a clear timetable proposed to execute the assignment.

Draft report identifying the gaps and challenges in the regional legal framework including the key human rights at risk of infringement and recommendations for appropriate and relevant legislative provisions which will be validated by key stakeholders; and Final report identifying the gaps and challenges in the regional legal framework including the key human rights at risk of infringement from feedback from key stakeholders. The report should conclude with recommendations for the alignment of the regional framework with international human rights standards and best practices,


The Consultant will report to ABA ROLI staff in Uganda and will directly liaise with the ABA staff in the day-to-day execution of the assigned tasks. The adequacy of the deliverables will need to be approved equally by ABA ROLI.


• Master’s degree in Law or Human Rights, Development Studies and Social Sciences, or

any other relevant academic qualification. A doctorate will be an added advantage.

• A minimum of five (5) years of progressive experience with demonstrable experience

undertaking consultancies with proven experience in undertaking research /study.

• Thematic expertise in the areas of digital/online rights, computer crimes and cybercrimes

will be an added advantage.

• In-depth understanding of the existing cyber policies and related policy/legislation in East


• Excellent legal research and drafting skills with experience authoring scholarly

publications or institutional reports of a similar nature.

• Strong analytical skills including analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data.

• Strong interpersonal and communication skills required to undertake research, and similar


• Additionally, pays to attention to detail and deadlines.


ABA ROLI will undertake a competitive process of identifying the most suitable candidate toundertake the assignment. The process will include sending out an Expression of Interest where the interested persons or organizations can apply as below:

The interested candidates are requested to submit a proposal, including the following: cover letter,2 letters of reference, and outline of proposed structure of the study; estimated budget and workplan to the Senior Program Manager

on Applications should be submitted by close of business on Wednesday 23 February 2023.

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