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Call for Applications: West Africa Freedom of Expression & Digital Rights Litigation Workshop

Call for Applications: West Africa Freedom of Expression & Digital Rights Litigation Workshop

3 – 7 September in Lagos, Nigeria 

The Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) is calling for applications from English-speaking lawyers based in countries that are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)[1] to participate in a forthcoming litigation workshop on the right to freedom of expression, digital rights, and the Internet.

All applicants are required to submit for discussion a current or potential case involving these matters. Successful applicants will attend the litigation workshop and become members of a digital rights legal network through which there will be opportunity for engagement regionally and internationally.

Litigation workshop objectives

MLDI provides legal support to journalists, bloggers and independent media. In recent years, it has supported a significant number of cases involving online media. These have included challenging social media blocking and Internet shutdowns, contesting cybercrimes legislation and intermediary liability, as well as calling for greater online privacy and source protection.

The objectives of the litigation workshop 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 – both online and offline;
  • 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.

Criteria for eligibility

Participants will be selected on the following criteria:

  • The workshop is open to lawyers who work and reside in countries that are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);
  • Applicants can either be working in private practice or be working for, or be affiliated with, NGOs promoting the right to freedom of expression 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 English;
  • The lawyers 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 workshop. 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 workshop;
  • 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.

MLDI is committed to equality of opportunity and diversity; and will therefore consider gender, age and country of origin in its selection of participants.

How to apply

Please complete the attached application form and submit it to Michael Moss at michael.moss@mediadefence.org. The deadline is Friday 8 June 2018.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date and should be available for a Skype or telephone interview on 12, 13, and 14 June 2018.

Deadline for applications: Friday 8 June 2018

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