Doughty Street International’s Media Defence Panel provides legal representation, advice and support to journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, NGOs and media organisationsworldwide, including in urgent cases concerning arrest, detention and seizure of equipment, and on a wide range of issues concerning freedom of expression and newsgathering.
Members of the DSI Media Defence Panel have a great deal of experience defending individuals and organisations subjected to measures which violate their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, their right to privacy and their ability to carry out their work. We frequently represent those who find themselves caught up in politically motivated proceedings around the world and we have taken a central role in numerous international legal, political and publicity campaigns that have not only brought attacks on the media to international attention, but also secured significant, practical victories - including the release of detained journalists.
We have acted in cases before the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court and Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations human rights bodies and before the domestic courts of numerous countries. Members of our team have acted as counsel in some of the most prominent cases involving violations of free speech rights of recent years, including:
- The case of of Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, the first free speech case before the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights which ruled that the imprisonment for defamation of a journalist from Burkina Faso violated his rights and ordered the country to change its laws.
- The case of Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy who was convicted in Egypt of terrorism-related crimes, broadcasting “false news, and operating without adequate licences”. Mr Fahmy was released and pardoned following a two-year international legal and political campaign.
- The case of Khadija Ismayilova v. Azerbaijan before the European Court of Human Rights. Ms. Ismayilova is an investigative journalist who was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Azeri government as a result of her work. Following the hearing of her case, Ms. Ismayilova had her sentence commuted and was freed.
- The case of Maksim Butkevich v. Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. Mr. Butkevich is a Ukrainian journalist who was arrested when covering protests taking place in St Petersburg during the G8 summit in 2006, and the case raises important issues about legal protection for those reporting on protests.
- The case of Esraa Abdel Fattah (“Facebook Girl”) a prominent political activist and journalist in Egypt who has been subjected to regular harassment by the authorities and is the subject of a travel ban. Members of DSI have made submissions on her behalf to United Nations human rights bodies.
As part of our work, members of the Media Defence Panel often collaborate with a network of well-known media defence organisations including MLDI, Index on Censorship, RSF, Article 19 and others.