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

Application Deadline: 28th April 2019.
Eligible Countries: BeninBurkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, GambiaGhana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast,Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

To Be Taken At (Country): Accra, Ghana

About the Award: 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.

Themes: The following non-exhaustive list of themes are a guide for the type of cases that could be submitted with the application:

  1. · Cybercrime laws;
  2. · Intermediary liability;
  3. · Internet shutdowns;
  4. · Restriction of online media;
  5. · Online privacy;
  6. · National security; and
  7. · Anonymity online.

Type: Workshop

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.
Number of Awards: A maximum of 12 participants will be selected;
Value of Award: MLDI will cover airfare, accommodation, travel expenses and a per diem.

Duration of Programme: 1 – 5 July 2019
How to Apply: 

  • 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.
  • It is important to go through all application requirements on the Programme Webpage (see link below) before applying
  • GOODLUCK!


Visit the Programme Webpage for Details

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