West Africa Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery 2019 (Fully-funded Workshop for Lawyers in ECOWAS Member Countries)

The Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) is a charity, based in the United Kingdom, which provides legal help to journalists, bloggers, and independent media across the world. We support journalists’ legal defense, undertake strategic litigation, fund media defense centers, and strengthen capacity in the legal community through practical, specialized training and network-building.

MLDI is calling for applications from English-speaking lawyers based in countries that are members of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Republic of Cameroon to participate in a practical litigation workshop on the right to freedom of expression, digital rights, and the internet.

West Africa Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Litigation Surgery 2019 (Fully-funded Workshop for Lawyers in ECOWAS Member Countries)

Scholarship Benefits

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

Number of awards: 12 participants will be selected for the litigation surgery. There will also be two MLDI lawyers, an MLDI project coordinator and an external facilitator.

The objectives of this specialized litigation surgery training are:

  • To equip participants with the practical skills and knowledge to litigate using national and international laws as well as regional and international mechanisms relevant to freedom of expression online;
  • 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.

Scholarship Eligibility

Participants will be selected on the following criteria:

  • The surgery is open to lawyers who work and reside countries that are members of the ECOWAS (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo) and the Republic of Cameroon;
  • 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 West Africa 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;
  • They 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 either currently litigating or that they intend to litigate, which may be discussed during the litigation surgery. 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 surgery;
  • 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.

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

Scholarship Requirements

Please complete the attached application form and submit it to Michael Moss at [email protected] before the deadline of midnight on Sunday 28 April 2019.  

Shortlisted applicants will be notified soon after the closing date and should be available for a Skype or telephone interview on 8, 9 or 10 May 2019.  

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

Download the application form

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