Cartoonists Rights Network International is pleased to announce the launch of it’s new Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network.
This initiative is a direct response to findings made prior to the pandemic when a consultative exercise with CRNI’s Regional Representatives identified criminalisation as their chief concern among the various threats to cartoonists’ freedom of expression.
This sentiment was echoed at September’s Press & Cartooning Global Forum, where all delegates regardless of their point of origin expressed concerns about erosion of democracy and civil liberties in their respective countries.
The period of work establishing the Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network has been supported by UNESCO’s Global Media Defense Fund.
Going forward from the first quarter of 2022 the Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network will be considered part of CRNI’s core program.
Naturally the strength of the project will be in the quality of guidance given. To that end we have spent the past year recruiting a new panel of experts that includes practicing lawyers and academics specialising in human rights and most particularly freedom of expression as well as journalism and media, digital rights and security.
In addition to personnel from several leading NGOs we have also secured experts from a broad geographical spread and ensured gender balance. Among those lending their time to the project are:
Firm, NGO etc.
Louis Gitinywa Akohoudeo
Kigali Attorneys LLP
Mass Media Defence Centre
Saúl Antonio Baños
Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicacion del Derecho
Dr. Bea Bodrogi
Republic of Korea
Ochiel J Dudley
Simple Legal Consulting
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC
Doughty Street Chambers
Faiga W.G. Geroro
Papua New Guinea
Gosego R. Lekgowe
University of Botswana
Prof. Laura E. Little
Temple University School of Law
Prof. Andrés Calderón Lopez
Universidad del Pacifico
Linden & Associates
Dr. Daniel Mekonnen
James & Doris Legal Practitioners
Samuel Kofi Nartey
Human Rights Law Network
Please note this is not an exhaustive list; we respect our experts’ rights to privacy and anonymity.
CRNI is grateful to IFEX, Media Matters, and Ms Gallagher at DCS for their assistance in assembling our panel. Please note that a series of interviews with some of these Legal Experts will be published on our blog from this week.
When first embarking with this project with UNESCO it was assumed that there would be an opportunity for promotion of this new network at international cartoonists’ events. The continuing effects of the pandemic and the necessary restrictions on travel stymied those plans.
I certainly hope there will be opportunities to speak with cartoonists next year, but in the meantime all promotional activity shall be online.
A dedicated email address specifically for inbound requests for legal guidance has been set up: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our colleagues’ shared anxiety about the threat of criminalisation is real and well founded. I feel that CRNI is duty-bound to respond and with this new mechanism we’ll help cartoonists get swift and relevant guidance.
Of course, I am well aware of the excellent work already being done by other organisations and know that many cartoonists have enjoyed first-class legal support in the past; indeed, some of our recruited experts have been responsible. We are not alone in this battle and will continue to work in partnership with others.
But of most concern to me are the cartoonists who have never had cause to use a lawyer before and who suddenly find themselves taken to a police station or in receipt of a court summons without a clear idea of what will happen next or who they might rely on.