KAMPALA – Kampala has been terror attacked again yesterday morning. Terrorism affects all of us. It has social-economic and psychological effects. Breaches National peace, safety, abuse the right to life as well as deter freedoms of movement. Terrorism alters economic behavior primarily changing investment and consumption patterns as well as diverting public and private resources away form productive activities and towards protective measures. Terrorism affects tourism, destroys capital, effects environment and reduces economic capacity of the country affected. There is no justification whatsoever for terrorism. We condemn all forms and manifestations of terrorism. Undoubtedly, government will handle this situation to its logical conclusion since government Anti-Crime infrastructure has greatly improved over years.
In the aftermath of Kampala bomb attackers, we must adopt citizenry counter terrorism strategies so as to support government and security agencies conduct excellent investigations. Patriotism and nationalism demands that we avoid anything likely to further in security or against public interest.
Uganda has an estimated 6.2 million internet users. Web traffic analysis by Alexa.com rank facebook as the most accessed website in the country. Others are You tube, Blogger, LinkedIn and twitter ranked among the fifteen (15). This clearly indicates Ugandans use and access social media highly.
Internet rights include among others freedom of expression, freedom to send and receive communication to mention but a few. Internet users owe a duty to other internet users as well as government in terms of promoting national security and upholding public interest.
In the terrorism aftermath without prejudice to internet rights we must avoid any misuse of social media, shun speculation in order to fight terrorism. Social media abused can be a pathway to interfere with investigations, can drain citizens and make many loose hope. Unknowingly, misuses of digital technologies can also hamper efficient and effective evidence gathering for successful prosecution at terror scenes.
Social media is a double aged sword for security. It can make security interventions efficient or ineffective at the same time. Undoubtedly, communication technology abuses and misuse post terror attacks enhances furtherance of acts of terrorism real and virtual. It can aid suspects disappearance and give wrong leads hence deterring criminal culpability.
We must avoid careless, uncontrolled and irresponsible social media postings, views, and opinions. It is vital to minimize use of social media to negatively communicate to the members of the public. In recent times we have seen massive “forwards” of videos, audios and graphic photos of terror scenes of crime as well as terror victims. Much as we enjoy the right and freedom to send and receive digital information some graphic scenes and photos are insensitive unnecessary and only create citizenry emotional instability besides the likelihood escalate an already bad National situation.
Individually, as empowered internet users we ought to appreciate the skill and art of social media management and monitoring with the aim to promote human rights, togetherness, rule of law observance, peace, harmony and good governance.
Some online social media opinions however well intended or good are most appropriate after formal government positions have been officially communicated by authorized government official(s) or spokes person (s).
Unfortunately, some graphic photos of terror victims maimed and in “bloody” state abuse the human right to privacy decency and dignity. Regardless of the vulnerability state of a terror victim they deserve the right to dignity reseat and privacy. In outright abuse of social media sometimes we come off as insensitive citizens who quarterly embark on taking a photo of someone crying for help and hardly recognizable. Why not offer first aid or quickly expedite access to medical help than record a video of a terror victim and quickly circulate it on all platforms.
Incidentally, this on line abuse also increase citizenry stress, anxiety and has bad energy which hampers mental growth and development. In post-traumatic situation like terrorist attacks.
Irresponsible usage of social media and internet is insensitive and against the tenants of Patriotism and Nationalism. Digital technologies used effectively and efficiently can be a great pathway to counter terrorism. This is mindful of citizen’s rights to seek, receive and impart information through digital technologies. In other instance social media misuse is an outright un ethical and immoral conduct on the part of the person recording a vulnerable victim in a sad state.
Undoubtedly and without prejudice to the above, digital information sharing has numerous benefits which include offering security agencies fast leads and clues in investigation, minimal costs, quick assistance to security agencies, makes media coverage efficient, convenient and affordable, allows fast and quick security response before situation gets out of hand.
The above notwithstanding, we must resolve to use social media responsibly and cautiously amidst terror attacks. We ought to use it mindful of our duty to individual rights and freedoms. Our internet usage must be in recognition of counter terrorism strategies of both government and security agencies underway.
We should increase personal and community vigilance as key counter terrorism strategies. There is need to digitally monitor and scout ourselves and quickly inform area police any noticed threats. The fight against terrorism is for all of us. It requires unity, cohesion and togetherness. Together we can fight terrorism. Calmness and highest levels of emotional intelligence are critical as we combat terrorism.
Peace and harmony with one another shall improve strong communication channels as we fight this global malaise. Sensitization and awareness of how to identify potential terrorists should be key on individual and community agenda.
Highest levels of responsibility on individual and community level are critical while vigilantly selflessness reporting on issues related to National security and Public interests.
There ‘s need to use internet, social media and all other digital technologies more responsibly, cautiously, sensitively and delicately, mindful of all National and global counter terrorism strategies.
Online and digital vigilance is key to identify, notice and monitor potential terrorist activity and notify security agencies fast. The fight against terrorism requires and demands strong digital and real citizenry support, participation, digital cohesion and online togetherness in all levels at all sectors. Internet and social media once used well is a great opportunity for gathering counter terrorism intelligence to prevent and counter acts of terrorism as well as for gathering of evidence for successful prosecution of such acts.
Person social media monitoring is key as we must adopt and adjust mentally and physically in order to combat terrorism in Uganda.
Ms. Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso is
Senior advocate and member, leadership code tribunal