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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Weaponising the Law: Attacks on Media Freedom

Monday , 24 April 2023
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

As threats to independent journalism continue to accelerate, the law is being weaponised around the world to compromise journalists’ safety and silence public interest reporting. The physical, emotional and financial consequences are enormous for journalists, who face the risk of going to jail, being bankrupted or repeatedly being dragged into court. Left unchecked, the future of the profession, democracies and free societies are at stake.


Raising awareness of these growing legal threats is critical if they are to be countered. That’s why the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University teamed up to produce a report that identifies and examines eight key legal threats to the profession.


Drawing on global research carried out by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism in 2022, alongside the contributions from 37 media freedom experts (including Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Samir Kassir Foundation) and the first-hand experience of nearly 500 alumni – representing 106 countries – from the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s journalism training programmes, this report is the first of its kind to bring together insights into these prevalent trends from reporters on the ground and leading experts. It provides the first step towards a global overview of the weaponisation of the law against journalists and a springboard into future research.

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