Using Legal Empowerment to protect the rights of journalists in East Africa

On the 29th - 30th of August, 2019 network member @LASPNET ( Legal Aid Service Providers Network) held a regional stakeholders’ dialogue on the state of freedom of expression in East Africa. This regional dialogue focused on how to build a supportive and resilient legal aid response to promote and protect access to justice for journalists.

The East African region sought to know how legal aid and paralegals can strengthen outreach and legal support on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information issues for journalists in urban and remote areas as well as ensure a safe and enabling environment for journalists and media houses to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals.

Participants included leading international and regional experts ,heads of legal aid institutions from state and non-state actors from the East African Region. Network members present were @Juliematheka who represents @ICJKenya , @NetworkforLegalAidProviders from Tanzania and @NationalLegalAidForum from Rwanda.

The #advocacy:justiceforall campaign calls for increased protection for persons working to defend and promote human rights. Journalists are often targeted in their line of work. It is encouraging that the East African region recognizes the crucial role legal empowerment efforts can play in protecting the rights of journalists.

Historically, East African countries have championed access to justice for marginalized groups, including journalists through offering free legal aid services to victims of rights abuses. These include but are nit limited to, the East African Legal Aid Regional Network with the objective to enhance established links between civil society legal aid providers including paralegals, NGOs and state justice actors in the East Africa region, The Human Rights Network for journalists which is dedicated to address increasing human rights abuses and violations facing journalists, LASPNET that supports paralegals and journalists through capacity building and the Network for Public Interest Lawyers that fosters greater engagement of lawyers in public interest litigation and advocacy towards achieving social justice and greater protection of fundamental rights in East Africa.

Key outputs of this regional conference are :

  1. Action plan to improve legal responses for journalists in the East African region generated.
  2. Joint statement/communique by participating civil society partners with specific recommendations.

Guests signing a live painting on the state of freedom of expression in East Africa

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