Freedom of expression, as articulated and protected by countless international instruments, national constitutions, and customary international law, includes the right to free speech and free thought, the right to publicly assemble and demonstrate, the right to petition government directly or through the courts, the right to participate in public affairs, the right to receive information from free and pluralistic media institutions (including online media), the right to access information held by public bodies, even the right to anonymity or privacy as necessary for the exercise of free speech. These rights are particularly critical as “gateway” rights: essential not only for themselves, but also to ensure the functioning and effective protection of other human rights which are threatened by the secrecy and impunity that prevails absent robust freedom of expression.
- assisting individuals experiencing censorship or threatened by improper prosecution, intimidation, or harassment based on their free expression;
- fighting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) by corporations and other private parties against human rights and environmental defenders, in particular a new generation of corporate “counter-attacks” by corporations on victims and lawyers in corporate accountability cases;
- advising lawyers and community representatives on how to avoid—and, as necessary, plan for—these types of “counter-attacks”
- working with civil rights organizations to improve and expand existing anti-SLAPP laws;
- defending individuals improperly arrested or detained for participating in protests and demonstrations, and obtaining injunctions and just compensation for such detentions when warranted;
- working with communities and organizations to seek access to information on key environmental and other public policy issues.