Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has been named as one of the 15 “Global champions of free expression” shortlisted for the 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards for its work over the last two decades to improve the media freedom and freedom of expression environment in Nigeria.
MRA and the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), another Nigerian registered non-governmental organization, are among the 15 finalists announced by the United Kingdom-based campaigning organization, Index on Censorship in January 2019 that are in contention for the Awards.
In a statement issued in London announcing the 15 shortlisted individuals and organizations from around the world, Index on Censorship said they were drawn from more than 400 crowdsourced nominations which include “artists, writers, journalists and campaigners fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles.”
“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society – and it’s under increasing threat worldwide. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognise the groups and individuals willing to stand up for it,” Ms Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said in the statement.
The Awards fellowships are offered in four categories, namely: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism. Final winners in each category will be announced at a gala ceremony to be held in London on April 4, 2019
Judges for this year’s awards include the award-winning investigative journalist and Rappler.com Editor-in-Chief, Maria Ressa; actor and filmmaker Khalid Abdalla; computer scientist and author Dr. Kate Devlin; and writer and social activist Nimco Ali.
Index on Censorship noted in its statement that Media Rights Agenda “has spent the last two decades working to improve media freedom and freedom of expression in Nigeria by challenging the government in courts,” adding that “Through its active legal team, MRA has initiated strategic litigation targeting dozens of institutions, politicians and officials to improve the country’s legal framework around media freedom.”
It said MRA’s “persistent campaigning and lawsuits on freedom of information have helped improve access to government-held data.”
Index on Censorship noted that IMS “aims to improve the country’s media landscape by challenging government regulation and fostering the creation of community radio stations in rural areas at a time when local journalism globally is under threat” and praised the organization for combining “research and advocacy to challenge legal restrictions on the media as well as practical action to encourage Nigerians to use their voices,”
The Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards is now in its 19th year and this year, the Awards are being supported by sponsors including SAGE Publishing, Google, Private Internet Access, Edwardian Hotels, Vodafone, France Médias Mondes and Psiphon Share via Direct Message