Litigation has been recognised as a potentially effective tool in removing restrictions on the free flow of information online in countries with repressive internet regimes. Increasingly, some initiatives are seeking to encourage collaboration among different actors in strategic litigation for a free and open internet.
Indeed, various cases in litigation for the respect and realisation of digital rights have recently been recorded in Cameroon, Kenya, Burundi and Gambia, among other countries in Africa.
Yet still, litigation remains under-utilised because of a lack of effective collaboration between different actors: lawyers, activists, academics, technical experts and other members of civil society.
Accordingly, the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) 2018 will serve as an opportunity for the Media Legal Defense Initiative (MLDI) to build the capacity of internet activists to collaborate across disciplinary silos to more effectively push back against regressive legal frameworks that are not conducive to access and use of the internet in Africa.
Sessions at the workshop will explore the meaning of strategic litigation and examine relevant comparative and international legal standards drawing on judgments from regional courts. Together with participants, MLDI will analyse the legal issues that can arise in the context of digital rights and freedom of expression through three case studies. Through interactive group sessions, participants will examine how the comparative and international standards can be applied in practical terms.
The workshop, scheduled to take place on September 26, 2018, is aimed at enhancing the strategies for future digital rights and online freedom of expression litigation and advocacy in Africa. It builds on the foundations set in knowledge and skills for collaboration in research for internet policy advocacy as well as regional efforts targeting the legal fraternity in East and West Africa.
The 2018 workshop is the second digital rights litigation training to be held on the sidelines of FIFAfrica. The first workshop was hosted at the 2017 edition of FIFAfrica in Johannesburg, South Africa by the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and MLDI.