Media Defence is an international human rights organisation which provides legal defence to journalists, citizen journalists and independent media around the world who are under threat for their reporting.
We work globally, where there is the greatest need. We defend journalists, citizen journalists and media outlets from legal threats that violate the right to freedom of expression so that they can continue to report on issues of public interest.
By informing the public and holding power to account, a free press plays an essential role in society. Unfortunately, many journalists come under threat due to their reporting. This is why we provide legal support to ensure they can continue to report on issues of public interest.
We are unique in what we do. To date, we are the only organisation in the world solely focused on providing this critical help to journalists.
Media freedom is in decline around the world. Increasing control of the media sought by governments and other powerful actors has seen a surge in attacks on independent media, with abusive legal actions, violence and an array of restrictive laws. More and more journalists face these threats alone, without the protection of resourced media houses or effective legal representation.
That’s why, as part of our 2020-2024 strategy, we are increasing and deepening the support we offer to our partners, enhancing the availability and quality of legal defence for journalists around the world as well as the coordination of strategic litigation on media freedom and freedom of expression.
Media Defence was founded in 2008 in the context of a sharply deteriorating media freedom. It originated from a programme of work by the Open Society Initiative (OSI). Faced with an ever-growing demand for media legal defence services which neither they nor others could respond to, the OSI and the Open Society Justice Initiative decided to set up a new entity which would have the capacity to defend not just headline-grabbing media freedom cases, but to respond to the constant barrage of law suits against independent media.
To date, we have supported over 1,000 cases, helping hundreds of journalists in 110 countries. Our work has contributed to prevent over 300 years of detention for media workers and avoided £500m in damages. We have supported 40 partners and have trained nearly 150 lawyers.