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[Now Closed] Call for Applications: Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery for Central and Eastern Europe

[Now Closed] Call for Applications: Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery for Central and Eastern Europe

Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery for Central and Eastern Europe

15 – 16 May 2024, Brussels, Belgium

 

 

Media Defence is calling for applications from lawyers working in Central and Eastern Europe to participate in a litigation surgery on freedom of the media, with an emphasis on online speech and the impact of digital technology on journalists’ rights (for the list of eligible countries, see below). The litigation surgery will take place in Brussels, Belgium, on 15 and 16 May 2024.

Litigation surgery participants will have a chance exchange knowledge and experience with their peers, including by discussing their ongoing cases. The surgery will enable a discussion of challenges presented by litigating media freedom cases. For instance sourcing cases, securing necessary evidence, building legal arguments, choosing appropriate remedies and legal fora, ensuring the client’s safety, and using litigation as a tool for changing laws and practices.

Applicants are required to provide a description of a current or potential case. The case must relate to freedom of expression (preferably involving journalists or media outlets). Those who do not have a current case of this kind may provide instead a law, practice or policy relating to freedom of expression that they intend to challenge through litigation.

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 criminal and civil defamation, challenging social media blocking and Internet shutdowns, contesting cybercrimes legislation, ‘false news’, as well as calling for greater protections for privacy and source protection.

The litigation surgery is a space for litigators to share technical legal expertise on the relevant thematic issues. It is also a space for litigators to network and find out what other litigators in Central and Eastern Europe are working on.

Following the surgery, Media Defence will be open to supporting participants’ current and future cases, including through ad hoc legal support and partnerships.

Eligibility

  • A maximum of 12 participants will be selected will be selected on the following criteria:
  • The surgery is open to lawyers who work and reside in the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine;
  • They must have a demonstrated interest in, and knowledge of, the right to freedom of expression. Ideally backed up by the experience of litigating freedom of expression cases;
  • 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 Central and Eastern Europe 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 cases will be considered as well.
  • Applicants must be sufficiently proficient in English to be able to participate freely in discussions and explain and dissect complex legal issues.
  • Applicants must be prepared to share and discuss freedom of expression cases they are litigating or intend to litigate.
  • The lawyers must demonstrate interest in international/European human rights law;

Media Defence is committed to advancing equality and diversity. We will therefore consider gender, age and country of origin in its selection of participants.

Costs of participation

Media Defence will cover airfare and accommodation, and provide a modest per diem.

Additionally, we are piloting a new stipend. This will to help cover caring responsibilities and make our events more accessible to all participants. Participants who have significant caring duties outside of work, such as childcare, elder care, or care for family members with disabilities, are eligible to request a stipend of £50 per day. This stipend is available for any participant and is intended as a contribution to offset related costs and remove participation barriers for those with care commitments. Successful candidates will receive further information.

How to apply

Please complete the online application form. The deadline is 25 March 2024.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date.

For information about how Media Defence will use and protect your data, please see our privacy policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a litigation surgery?

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 surgery’s focus on preliminary problem identification, framing of violations, formulation of human rights arguments and remedies. The surgeries also provide an in-depth discussion around strategic litigation and litigating before international human rights bodies.

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

Litigation surgeries are only open to practicing lawyers. 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 surgery?

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

Q: Where must surgery participants be from?

This call for applications relates to Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. Only lawyers who reside and practice in this region are eligible to apply.

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

12 participants will be selected for the litigation surgery. There will also be members of Media Defence’s Legal Team, the Training Officer and partner organisations from the region.

Q: Who pays for the costs of participation?

Media Defence will cover airfare, accommodation, travel expenses and a modest per diem.

Stipend: Additionally, for our 2024 events, we are piloting a new stipend. This will help cover caring responsibilities and make our events more accessible to all participants. Participants who have significant caring duties outside of work, such as childcare, elder care, or care for family members with disabilities, are eligible to request a stipend of £50 per day. This stipend is available for any participant. It is intended as a contribution to offset related costs and remove participation barriers for those with care commitments. Successful candidates will receive further information.

Media Defence is open to supporting participants’ current and future cases. We will discuss with participants how Media Defence can assist them in their freedom of expression litigation. For example, through ad hoc legal support or partnerships.

If you face legal threats because of your journalism, we can help.

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