As part of Media Defence’s latest project Empowering Women in Digital Rights Advocacy, we aim to contribute to building a strong legal defence network in the region. To achieve this goal, we provide financial assistance to organisations to establish legal aid units or media defence centres. For that reason, we are particularly excited to announce that we are now funding four media defence centres in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this article, we want to introduce the organisations that will be working with Media Defence in the coming year.
Campaign for Free Expression (CFE)
According to CFE, protecting the right to freedom of expression means to “exercise this right to the full, whether it by speaking out, by protesting, by revealing information, by blowing the whistle on wrong-doing, by arguing, debating, writing, painting, composing or just by shouting out an opinion”. Therefore, CFE aims to mobilise awareness and support for those whose freedom of expression is threatened. Additionally, CFE also undertakes strategic and precedent-setting legal action to promote and defend free expression. However, the challenges to freedom of expression become increasingly complex. Therefore, CFE aims to set up an in-house legal defence centre to tackle these issues through legal support.
Collectif des Associations Contre l’Impunité au Togo (CACIT)
This network of fourteen associations and non-profit organisations in Togo has had a clear mission since 2006: to contribute to improving the human rights situation in the country in a holistic way. The end goal is “a Togo, without human rights violations where the victims restored in their rights and dignity contribute effectively to the development to their community”. Therefore, the organisation’s goals include to create and maintain networks of human rights professionals. This network shall in turn offer legal, judicial and social support to victims of human rights violations. Additionally, CACIT’s objective is to build capacity of civil society actors and journalists on professionalism and their safety. In this context, CACIT has taken an initiative. It is to provide legal and judicial assistance to journalists in dispute because of exercising their right to free expression.
The Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL)
NETPIL’s vision is a legal profession committed to serving the justice needs of society. Therefore, the Kampala-based umbrella organisation “brings together individuals, law firms, non-governmental organisations and institutions with a commitment to engage in public interest litigation”. More concretely, NETPIL’s work encompasses strategic litigation and enhancing the capacity of its members to engage in public interest litigation. In the past three years, NETPIL has increasingly witnessed violations of the right to freedom of expression in Uganda – the trend is upwards. At the same time, there has been an increase in criminal charges related to cyber-crimes and inciting online violence.
Therefore, NETPIL now aims to ensure complete and enhanced legal redress for the protection of media freedom in Uganda. This way, the organisation aims to target interventions around freedom of expression online and media freedom.
Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA)
With over 20 years’ experience, VOSIEDA is a well-established network of professionals set up in response to development challenges in West Africa. Initially, VOSIEDA was founded in 2000 by local volunteers in response to the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars. Since then, the work of the Liberia-based organisation is driven by one vision: “Prosperous societies with empowered people and communities committed to caring for nature, where peace, justice, and respect prevail”. Within this holistic vision, VOSIEDA also works towards fostering free press and enabling environments for journalists. Therefore, the network now aims to provide free legal support and better access to legal assistance for independent media, journalists and bloggers in Liberia. As part of this project, the lawyers will provide legal training and litigate cases related to freedom of expression.
We are beyond excited with the opportunity to partner with these four excellent media defence centres.
If you would like any further information, please contact Project Assistant Hanna Uihlein at firstname.lastname@example.org
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