Cases & Projects
Our strategic litigation focuses on the abuse of all criminal laws to silence journalists; and on laws that limit internet freedom and are used to target online media and bloggers. We encourage journalists or bloggers who have been targeted under such laws to contact us.
MLDI's strategic litigation focuses on criminal laws that are used to silence journalists and laws that restrict online publishing and internet freedom. We also challenge the abuse of civil libel and privacy laws, and licensing and registration laws.
The goal of our strategic litigation programme is to achieve a legal and regulatory environment that allows and encourages the free flow of information and ideas. Unfortunately, in many of the countries in which we work the legal regime does the opposite - either by design, or because local laws, though neutrally worded, are used and interpreted in such a way as to silence criticism.
Given the ongoing abuse of criminal laws in many of the countries in which MLDI is active, we particularly seek out cases that offer an opportunity to bring these laws in line with international freedom of expression standards – or where such standards are insufficiently specific, to clarify them. We have a particular focus on criminal libel laws, but we also litigate to end the use of laws on sedition, laws that prohibit the publication of "false news", or anti-terror laws that are used to silence journalists.
With the growth of internet publishing, there is an equal growth in laws and regulations that attempt to limit what can be published online. This is a relatively new area of law and enforcement of unduly harsh domestic laws leads to serious problems. In some countries, blocking and filtering mechanisms have been put in place to try to make sure that content deemed "illegal" or somehow "undesirable" cannot be accessed. Such laws violate international standards on freedom of expression and we help challenge them.
We already have a number of cases pending. For example, at the European Court of Human Rights, we have lodged interventions challenging criminal libel as well as false news laws, we have brought cases to the UN Human Rights Committee and we have supported cases at several national supreme courts.
A separate aim of our strategic litigation work is to explore underutilised or non-traditional international appeal mechanisms, particularly with regard to countries that have not signed up to the mainstream international human rights courts and treaties.
In all our strategic litigation, partnerships are vital. Achieving strategic goals requires sustained advocacy and lobbying efforts in addition to the technical legal work. It also requires a strong legal capacity on the ground - good lawyers. MLDI's best work is achieved when all these elements come together.
For more information on our strategic litigation or to suggest cases, please get in touch with our legal team.