Call for Applications: East Africa Digital Rights & Online Freedom of Expression Litigation Workshop

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Posted on: 
2 Feb 2018

East Africa Digital Rights & Online Freedom of Expression Litigation Workshop

3 – 6 April 2018, Nairobi, Kenya


The Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) is calling for applications from lawyers based in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to participate in a forthcoming litigation workshop on the right to online freedom of expression, digital rights and the Internet. Successful applicants will attend the litigation workshop and become active members of a digital rights legal network through which there will be opportunity for engagement regionally and internationally.

All applicants are required to submit for discussion a current or potential case involving these matters. If applicants do not have a case, they may submit a relevant law, practice or policy relating to online freedom of expression that they would like to see challenged in court.   

Litigation workshop objectives

MLDI provides legal support to journalists, bloggers and independent media. In recent years, MLDI has supported a significant number of cases involving online media. These have included challenging social media blocking and Internet shutdowns, contesting cybercrimes legislation and intermediary liability, as well as calling for greater protections for online privacy and source protection.

Specifically, the objectives of the litigation workshop are:

  • To equip participants with skills and knowledge to litigate using national and international laws as well as regional and international mechanisms relevant to freedom of expression online;
  • To build a digital rights network and help facilitate its engagement with international legal mechanisms and global civil society initiatives; and  
  • To assist and develop working relationships amongst lawyers undertaking such cases.

Criteria for eligibility

Participants will be selected on the following criteria:

  • The workshop is open to lawyers from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda;
  • Applicants can either be working in private practice or be working for or be affiliated with NGOs promoting the right to freedom of expression in East Africa through litigation. Exceptionally strong applications from lawyers who have not yet undertaken freedom of expression work, but have experience litigating other human rights cases and have a strong interest in undertaking freedom of expression work will be considered as well. A maximum of 12 participants will be selected;
  • The lawyers must have a demonstrated interest in and/or knowledge of the right to online freedom of expression, digital rights, internet freedom and/or related issues;
  • The lawyers must have a demonstrated interest in and/or knowledge of international and regional human rights law;
  • With their application, applicants are requested to submit a case study of a case that they are litigating or intend to litigate and that could be discussed during the litigation workshop. As set out above, it will suffice for participants who do not have a case that is pending to have identified a relevant law, practice or policy relating to online freedom of expression that they would like to challenge in court. However, such participants must demonstrate their ability and willingness to pursue the case after the workshop;
  • The cases submitted must involve a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression online;
  • The following non-exhaustive list of themes are a guide for the type of cases that could be submitted with the application:
  • Cybercrime laws;
  • Intermediary liability;
  • Internet shutdowns;
  • Restriction of online media;
  • Online privacy;
  • National security; and
  • Anonymity online.

Please note that the working language for the workshop will be English.

How to apply

Please complete the attached application form and submit it to Michael Moss at The deadline is Wednesday 21 February 2018.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date and should be available for a Skype or telephone interview on 26, 27 or 28 February 2018.

Deadline for applications: Wednesday 21 February 2018


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a litigation workshop?

A litigation workshop is a focused seminar where participants are able to present a case they are working on to peers and experts and have a discussion about the case. The workshops focus on preliminary problem identification, framing of violations, formulation of human rights arguments and remedies. The workshops also provide an in-depth understanding of strategic litigation and litigating before regional and international human rights bodies.

Q: I am not a lawyer but I am interested, can I apply?

Litigation workshops are only open to lawyers who are in practice. Very rare exceptions will be made for lawyers who are not in practice or other people providing legal assistance to civil society organisations that work on the right to freedom of expression.

Q: What is the purpose of a litigation workshop?

Litigation workshops are intended to be a space for litigators to receive technical legal expertise on the relevant thematic issues. It is also a space for litigators to network and find out what other litigators in East Africa are working on.

Q: Where must workshop participants be from?

This call for applications relates to East Africa, and only lawyers based and working in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are eligible to apply. Legal advisors based in the global north who provide assistance to lawyers working in domestic courts are not eligible to apply; their local partners should apply.

Q: How many participants will be at the litigation workshop?

12 participants will be selected for the litigation workshop. There will also be two MLDI lawyers, an MLDI project coordinator and an external facilitator.

Q: Who pays for the costs of participation?
MLDI will cover airfare, accommodation, travel expenses and a modest per diem.  

Q: Is there any follow-up?

MLDI plans to help facilitate a network of lawyers who are interested and active in defending digital rights and online freedom of expression cases. Further details will be provided during the litigation workshop.

In addition, MLDI’s lawyers will discuss with participants how MLDI can assist with their cases and provide follow-up. MLDI will also discuss the possibility of providing further assistance to the freedom of expression cases participants work on after the workshop, either by way of providing ad hoc legal support or by way of partnerships. As MLDI is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to providing legal defence to journalists, bloggers and independent media across the world through its networks, it is always interested in following up on participants’ cases and working with participants on cases in the future.