A Year in Review: Our 2019 Annual Report

node leader
Posted on: 
18 May 2020


“In the year under review I have been once again struck by the significance of the achievements of those that we help. Their stories individually and collectively are heroic. They take personal and professional risks, they persist when it would be easier to give up, and they fight for the right to speak truth to power.”


- Robert Jobbins, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Media Defence.

In 2019 we came to a very successful end of our 2015-2020 strategy period. We supported 329 cases in 65 countries around the world, and of these 116 were new – a record yearly figure since our founding in 2008. We also supported 45 strategic cases that have the potential to improve the general climate in which the media operates.


“All of this was made possible by the inspirational journalists, lawyers and activists we have worked with, the generous support of our donors and pro bono lawyers, and the continued dedication of our UK and US trustees, patrons and staff, who have all worked tirelessly to ensure that journalists can carry out their work uncensored and unhindered. Finally, we wish our CEO Lucy all the best during her maternity leave and look forward to welcoming her back in 2021.”


 – Alinda Vermeer, Acting CEO


Despite these wins, the context in which we operate is worsening. Independent journalism is under threat like never before. Increasing control of the media sought by governments and other powerful actors has seen a surge in the persecution of independent media, with abusive legal actions, violence and an array of restrictive laws.

In 2019, at least 250 journalists were in prison around the world, while countless others faced legal action for doing their job of informing the public. More and more journalists often face these threats alone, without the protection of resourced media houses or effective legal representation.


“Faced with being accused of a crime I did not commit, Media Defence came to my rescue. I’m grateful for the legal support provided by Media Defence and its partners. Freedom cannot exist without free speech and a free press.”


– Kelly Duda, Journalist/Filmmaker


We are unique in what we do. To date, we are the only organisation in the world solely focused on providing this crucial help to journalists. In the next four years, we will aim to dedicate additional resources to build local legal capacity to defend freedom of expression by funding more partners globally, developing our resources, communicating our work and that of our partners more effectively and continuing to amplify the impact of our strategic litigation digital cases, violence against journalists and criminal restrictions.

Our 2019 Annual Report has been designed in the style of our new branding which will be launched soon. The report includes words from across our team, case studies, interviews, stats and infographics, reflections and learnings. We discuss the general global climate for media freedom as well as specific issues and cases we’ve worked on in regions from Eastern Europe to Eastern Africa. To view the full report, please click here.

Many thanks to Hani Abbas at Cartooning for Peace for our cover image.

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