Wafa Ben Hassine

Main focus: Human rights in the Arab world

Twitter handle: @ousfourita

Website/blog: http://www.wafabenhassine.com/

Languages: English, Arabic, French

City: Tunis

Country: Tunisia

Topics: middle east, arabellion, cyberislam, terrorism, cyberterrorism, digital extremism, cybercrime, international law, cybersecurity, internet, international criminal law, north africa, women and technology, human rights, international relations


Wafa Ben Hassine is an Open Technology Fund fellow researching counter-terrorism and cybercrime laws in select Arab countries — Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt — and their impact on various human rights online such as privacy and free expression. She is currently hosted as a fellow by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Wafa moved back to Tunisia. While there, she worked as a legislative aide to a National Constituent Assembly member, a columnist for Nawaat (an activist blogging collective), and as the Editor in Chief of Tunisia Live. She is also the co-founder of LEAD Tunisia, a Tunisian non-profit focused on reforming the legal education system in the country.

Wafa received her Juris Doctor in International Law from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California San Diego. Prior to her fellowship, Wafa has interned at the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL) in The Hague and the U.S. Department of State Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

Toeing the line – ineffective and unjust national security strategies in MENA

This panel discussed the continuous strains put on information flow in the Middle East and North Africa region by governments to purportedly fight the threat of terrorism. Governments are increasingly cracking down on human rights advocates, lawyers, and journalists, under the guise of protecting national security. The panel also took into account the attacks in Tunisia in June 2015 and the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq.

The Press Freedom Dimensions of Internet Governance

Participated in a roundtable workshop, held in the Internet Governance Forum in Turkey (2014), to explore various stakeholders’ role in resisting mass surveillance, particularly of journalists and media, and how Internet governance choices may impact on press freedom.

WEF MENA 2013: Towards Coexistence

In light of current regional transformations, how can leaders prevent interfaith and intercommunal relations from deteriorating? Discussed: Secularism and political Islam, and status of religious minorities.

Crowdsourcing a Magna Carta for 'The Web We Want'

Participated in a workshop held in the Internet Governance Forum in Turkey (2014), to discuss and compare experiences in large-scale constitutional crowd-sourcing. I discussed the process of drafting the Tunisian Constitution and the role of civil society in its promulgation.

Toeing the line – ineffective and unjust national security strategies in MENA

Discussed the ongoing crackdown on free speech and other rights by Arab governments under the pretenses of national security and fighting terrorism.