Call for Applications: East Africa Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery

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Call for Applications: East Africa Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery 

8 - 11 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda

 

The Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) is pleased to announce that it is calling for applications from lawyers based in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi to participate in a forthcoming litigation surgery on the right to freedom of expression. All applicants are required to submit for discussion and workshopping a current or potential case involving a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

The litigation surgery will be held in Kampala, Uganda from 8 - 11 August 2016.

Litigation surgery objectives

MLDI provides legal support to journalists, bloggers and independent media worldwide to enable them to continue with their reporting. A significant portion of MLDI’s work is currently conducted in the East African region; consequently MLDI is continually seeking to strengthen its network of lawyers to work within the region to further the regional freedom of expression framework. 

In light of this, the objective of the litigation surgery is threefold:

  • to identify and provide substantive support to cases on the right to freedom of expression that could be pursued before domestic and/or international fora;
  • to assist, and build working relationships with, lawyers undertaking such cases; and
  • to equip the participants with the necessary skills and knowledge regarding the international human rights mechanisms available for pursuing freedom of expression cases in East Africa.

Criteria for eligibility

Participants will be selected on the following criteria:

  • The surgery is open to lawyers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi;
  • The lawyers 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 freedom of expression and/or related issues;
  • The lawyers must have a demonstrated interest in, and/or knowledge of international and regional human rights law;
  • The lawyers must be involved in, or considering, litigating a case or cases that address violations of the right to freedom of expression. With their application, they must submit a case study of a case that they are litigating or intend to litigate that could be discussed and workshopped during the litigation surgery;
  • The cases submitted must involve a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression as protected in a national constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the East African Community Treaty or any other relevant domestic/international human rights instrument; and
  • The following non-exhaustive list of themes are a guide for the type of cases that could be submitted with the application: 
    • (criminal) defamation;
    • privacy;
    • restriction of the media by means of regulatory measures;
    • physical safety of journalists;
    • protection of sources; or
    • national security.

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

Closing date for applications: Monday 16 May 2016

How to apply

Please complete the attached application form and submit it to Jonathan McCully at jonathan.mccully@mediadefence.org. Requests for any further information can be addressed to Jonathan McCully also.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date and should be available for Skype or telephone interviews on 6 to 8 June 2016.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a litigation surgery?

A: A litigation surgery 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 surgeries focus on preliminary problem identification, framing of violations, formulation of human rights arguments and remedies. The surgeries also provide an in-depth understanding of strategic litigation and litigating before regional and international human rights bodies.

Q: I don’t have a case, can I still apply?

A: It will suffice for participants who do not have a case that is pending to have identified a law, practice or policy that they would like to challenge in court. However, such participants must demonstrate their ability and willingness to pursue the case after the surgery.

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

A: Litigation surgeries are only open to lawyers who are in practice. Very rarely exceptions will be made for legal officers 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 surgery?

A: Litigation surgeries 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 surgery participants be from?

A: This call for applications relates to East Africa, and only lawyers based and working in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi 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 surgery?

A: 12 participants will be selected for the litigation surgery. Three experts comprising of MLDI lawyers and other external experts will also be in attendance.

Q: Who pays for the costs of participation?

A: MLDI will cover airfare, accommodation, a modest per diem and other related costs.

Q: Is there any follow-up?

A: During the surgery, MLDI’s lead 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 subsequent to the surgery, 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.

 

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