Media Defence is calling for applications from lawyers based in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and the DRC to participate in a forthcoming litigation surgery on the right to freedom of expression, digital rights and the Internet.
Successful applicants will be provided with online learning materials and then be invited to two discussion sessions on 22 and 23 July 2021. Participants will 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 relating to freedom of expression. If applicants do not have a case, they may submit a relevant law, practice or policy relating to digital rights or freedom of expression that they would like to challenge in court.
Litigation surgery objectives
Media Defence provides legal support to journalists, bloggers and independent media. In recent years, Media Defence has supported a significant number of cases involving online media. These have included challenging social media blocking and Internet shutdowns, contesting cybercrimes legislation, ‘false news’ and intermediary liability, as well as calling for greater protections for online privacy and source protection.
Specifically, the objectives of the litigation surgery 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.
The litigation surgery will do this through a combination of online learning through presentations and materials along with two online discussion sessions for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing.
Criteria for eligibility
Participants will be selected on the following criteria:
- The surgery is open to lawyers who work and reside countries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and the DRC;
- 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 West and Central 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;
- Applicants must be proficient in French;
- They 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 surgery. 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 surgery;
- 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.
Media Defence is committed to advancing equality and diversity and will therefore consider gender, age and country of origin in its selection of participants.
How to apply
Please complete the application form attached below and submit it to Hannah Stoate at email@example.com. The deadline is 1 June 2021.
Full call for application:
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