A Year in Review: Our 2020 Learning Report

A Year in Review: Our 2020 Learning Report

At Media Defence, we undertake a variety of internal and external evaluations each year in order to understand the effectiveness and relevance of our programmes. We also do this to explore the impact of legal defence for journalists, in an increasingly contracting space for media freedom globally.

We are committed to transparency and wish to share the lessons and findings from our evaluations with our supporters. This year’s report includes a summary of the following programme and project evaluations carried out in 2020:

  1. Strategic Output and Outcome Indicators
  2. Journalist Impact Survey 2020
  3. Strategic Litigation Impact Assessment: Naser Selmani and Others v FYROM
  4. Most Significant Change Case Study: The Human Rights Platform
  5. Evaluation of our Advanced Litigation Surgery in East Africa: Six Months On

2020 was both a successful and challenging year in which we achieved most of our targets.

We provided support in 243 new cases – a record number of cases supported in a single year. Of these cases, 51 were strategic, compared to 37 in 2019.  In total, we worked on 443 cases, in 63 countries. This includes both new cases and those ongoing from previous years. 93% of cases we supported were based in ‘Difficult and Very Serious’ or ‘Problematic’ countries as defined by the 2020 Press Freedom Index. Therefore, we have continued to work where the need is highest. The highest number of new cases were from Brazil (142), Cameroon (8), Tanzania (8), Azerbaijan (7), Russia (7) and Nigeria (6).

As part of the second phase of the Digital Rights Advocates project, we trained 23 lawyers on freedom of expression law at two online Advanced Litigation Surgeries in East and Southern Africa.

We received a 54% response rate to our Journalist Impact Survey, an increase from 30% in 2019. 95% of respondents said they would recommend Media Defence (or partner) to a journalist facing legal action. Additionally, 90% said that they have continued to report on public interest issues following the conclusion of their case.

This was the first year of our 2020 – 2024 organisational strategy  which seeks to increase our impact, ensuring more journalists and independent media have access to affordable legal support. We met two of our strategic goals through supporting over 100 new emergency defence cases and 40 strategic cases.

If you are a journalist in need of support, please click here.

If you would like to support us through donating funds or pro-bono legal work, please click here.

Recent News

Media Defence et l’Impact Lab pour l’Etat de droit de Stanford Law School saisissent la Cour de justice de la CEDEAO contre les coupures d’internet ordonnées par l’Etat sénégalais

Le recours au nom d’AfricTivistes et de deux journalistes sénégalais vise à obtenir des mesures provisoires pour empêcher de nouvelles coupures d’Internet   READ IN ENGLISH   Dakar, le 13 février 2024 – Media Defence et le Rule of Law Impact Lab de la Stanford Law School ont déposé un recours devant la Cour de justice […]


Media Defence and SLS’s Rule of Law Impact Lab File Case Before ECOWAS Court Challenging Senegal Internet Shutdowns

Filing on behalf of AfricTivistes and Two Senegalese Journalists Seeks Interim Measures to Prevent Internet Shutdowns.   READ IN FRENCH   Dakar, February 13, 2024 – Media Defence and the Rule of Law Impact Lab at Stanford Law School have filed a lawsuit before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West […]


Clare Rewcastle Brown: Media Defence Condemns Prison Sentence

Media Defence condemns today’s prison sentence imposed, in absentia, on Clare Rewcastle Brown, the founder and editor of the Sarawak Report – a media outlet reporting on environmental and corruption issues in Malaysia. Rewcastle Brown, a British journalist renowned for her investigative reporting, has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for alleged defamation of Terengganu […]