Luminate awards Media Legal Defence Initiative $1.25 million to protect press freedom


Alliance magazine


Global philanthropic organisation Luminate today announced funding of $1.25 million to the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), as part of its efforts to support independent media around the world and strengthen press freedom.

MLDI provides legal support in more than 90 countries for journalists, bloggers and independent media organisations that face civil or criminal cases for their reporting – often intended as major operational and financial distractions from their mission.

Nishant Lalwani, Director of Independent Media at Luminate, said: ‘Given the growing global trend of normalised hostility against journalists and independent media, funding for organisations that protect and defend them is critical to the health of democracy. By supporting strategic litigation and enabling activist lawyers and local legal teams to fight these cases, we can help limit future attacks. MLDI offers a proven, high success rate in fighting cases for journalists and an opportunity to foster experimentation globally with strategic litigation among media organisations under threat.’

The funding, which will run over three years, will enable MLDI to expand its work ensuring legal defence for journalists is available in countries where the threat of legal action is high and constant, and pro bono legal support is inaccessible. With this support, MLDI will be able to grow its emergency defence fund to provide financial support and legal expertise to journalists under threat. The funding will also help the organisation continue engaging in strategic litigation to challenge repressive laws, set precedents and expand the space for media freedom by submitting cases to both domestic courts and international tribunals and by supporting in-country lawyers to do the same.

Lucy Freeman, CEO at MLDI said: ‘Our work to date has reached 93 countries where we’ve been successful in 70 per cent of our cases. Ninety per cent of journalists we work with continue to report after their cases. We must continue to defend independent media and journalists both reactively via the defence fund and proactively by advancing international standards for the protection of journalists. Support from organisations like Luminate is essential for us to help journalists continue reporting on the stories that matter..’

To date, Luminate has committed over $47 million to 59 independent media, investigative journalism and press freedom organisations including MLDI, Rappler, Reporters Without Borders, the Forbidden Stories project led by Freedom Voices Network, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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