Doughty Street International’s Media Law Group provides legal representation, advice and support to journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, NGOs and media organisations worldwide, 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 Law Group 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.

In addition to our case work, members of the DSI Media LawGroup have been called upon to be part of UN investigations and to provide expert evidence and opinions to the UN and to parliaments on media freedom issues.

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 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.

  • The case of BBC Persian v Iran, involving the persecution and harassment of BBC Persian staff and their families in Iran. This is the first time in the history of the BBC that the organisation has engaged with the UN over the protection of its journalists. 152 current and former BBC Persian staff are being collectively investigated for crimes against Iran’s national security and had their assets in Iran frozen. Members of DSI have made submissions on behalf of the BBC World Service to the United Nations human rights bodies and conducted broader public advocacy which has assisted to secure UN and parliamentary resolutions.

  • The case of Amal Fathy v Egypt, involving the imprisonment and conviction of Amal Fathy, a human rights defender in Egypt, for having posted on Facebook about sexual harassment in Egypt. She is accused of spreading fake news undermining national security and sympathising with banned terrorist groups. Members of DSI have made submissions on her behalf to the United Nations human rights bodies.

  • The case of assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta. Caruana Galizia, Malta’s most famous investigative journalist, was killed in a car bomb in 2017. Members of DSI act for her family in seeking truth and justice for her murder, calling for a public inquiry into her death.

  • The case of Prosecutor v Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar.  Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists were convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison in Myanmar following their reporting on crimes committed against Rohingyas by the Myanmar forces.

As part of our work, members of the Media Law Group often collaborate with a network of well-known media defence organisations including MLDI, Index on Censorship, RSF, Article 19 and others.