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[NOW CLOSED] Call for Applications: South Asia Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery

[NOW CLOSED] Call for Applications: South Asia Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery
19 – 22 July 2022, Kathmandu, Nepal


In partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), we are calling for applications from lawyers based in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to participate in a forthcoming litigation surgery on the right to freedom of expression. The litigation surgery will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 19 – 22 July 2022.

Participants will become active members of a press freedom legal network. This network will provide opportunities 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 freedom of expression that they would like to challenge in court.

Litigation surgery objectives

We provide legal support to journalists, bloggers and independent media. In recent years, we have 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.

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 international mechanisms relevant to freedom of expression;
  • To build a press freedom 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

We will select participants on the following criteria:

  • The surgery is open to lawyers who work and reside countries in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka;
  • 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 South Asia 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.
  • We will select a maximum of 10 participants;
  • Applicants must be proficient in English;
  • They 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.

We are committed to advancing equality and diversity and will therefore consider gender, age and country of origin in our selection of participants.

Case Study

When applying, applicants should submit a case study of a case that they are litigating or intend to litigate and that participants can discuss during the litigation surgery. The cases submitted must involve a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. As set out above, it will suffice for participants who do not have a pending case  to have identified a relevant law, practice or policy relating to 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 following non-exhaustive list of themes is a guide for the type of cases that could be submitted with the application:

  • Defamation (criminal or civil);
  • Violence against journalists, including physical attacks and online violence;
  • Restriction of online or print media;
  • Online privacy; and
  • National security.

How to apply

Please complete the attached application form and submit it to Hannah Stoate at The deadline is 18 May 2022.

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.

For more information, and a list of FAQs, please take a look at our full Call for Applications.

 Deadline for applications: 18 May 2022


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