Global Freedom of Expression

14 September

Global Webinar on The Freedom to Speak | Part 1: Strategies to Confront Emerging Threats

  • 9:00am-10:30am ET (New York)

The International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) and Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression present a two-part webinar to critically explore the emerging threats to freedom of expression. Presenters will share views, legal strategies, resources, and practical information on developing compelling arguments to defend freedom of expression and challenge laws that threaten it. Speakers are noted experts in the field and highlight how local advocates around the world may draw from international law and comparative experience to complement and enhance their advocacy. Part 1 which focuses on the practical application of international human rights law will be held on 14th September at  13:00 UTC / 09:00 EDT / 14:00 WAT / 15:00 CAT / 16:00 EAT. Don’t miss out!  Click here to register. 


  • Bridget Mafusire, Regional Legal Advisor, Africa, ISLP


  • Sara Lulo, Executive Director, ISLP
  • Hawley Johnson, Associate Director, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University
  • Judge Darian Pavli, European Court of Human Rights
  • Kola Alapinni, Trustee and Director of Operations & General Counsel, the Foundation for Religious Freedom; Barrister & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Nigeria
  • Peter Noorlander, Consultant on Social Justice Law and Policy, Civil Society Empowerment and Organizational Development; Co-founder of
  • Richard N. Winfield, Co-founder and Chair of the Media Law Working Group, ISLP

This event is co-sponsored by the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) and Global Freedom of Expression. It was further made possible with the support of UNESCO Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP).

9:00 – 9:10 am EDT Introductions and Webinar Objectives
Bridget Mafusire, ISLP
9:10 – 9:15 am EDT Opening Remarks
Sara Lulo, ISLP
9:15 – 9:25 am EDT
Protecting freedom of expression through comparative case law
Hawley Johnson, Columbia University
9:25 – 9:40 am EDT
Fundamental protections for freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights, including restrictions on criminal sanctions
Judge Darian Pavli, European Court of Human Rights
9:40 – 9:50 am EDT Q & A
Moderated by Bridget Mafusire, ISLP
Speakers: Kola Alapinni, Foundation for Religious Freedom, Peter Noorlander, Human Rights Expert, and Richard Winfield, ISLP
9:50 – 10:20 am EDT
The practical application of legal mechanisms to defend free speech in a democratic society
  • Legislative reform, and the consequential responsibility of litigators to develop the skills to protect and defend free speech
  • The array of political and judicial actions available to politicians to punish criticism
  • Using international law to defend free speech

Moderated by Bridget Mafusire, ISLP

10:20 – 10:30 am EDT Q & A
Moderated by Bridget Mafusire, ISLP

Bridget Kamanga MafusireModerator: Bridget Mafusire, Regional Legal Advisor, Africa, ISLP

Bridget is ISLP Regional Legal Advisor based in Zimbabwe, where she works on Community Inclusive Development, Media Law, and Impact Investing projects. Prior to joining ISLP in 2018, Bridget was practicing law full time as an Associate at Manokore Attorneys where she was working on public private partnerships and real estate projects. Before joining private practice, Bridget was a legal officer in the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Zimbabwe, she served on the board of Zimbabwe’s national trade promotion agency. Bridget holds a LLM in International Economic law from University of South Africa, Postgraduate Diploma In Trade Policy from Lund University and a law degree from University of Fort Hare in South Africa.

Sara LuloSara Lulo, Executive Director, ISLP

Sara Lulo joined ISLP as Executive Director in October 2019. Her professional background includes 20 years of experience working directly with government ministries, non-governmental organizations, and private sector entities in Latin America, Africa, North America, and Central and East Asia. Sara’s commitment to ISLP’s pro bono model and mission is informed by her experience as both a pro bono lawyer volunteer and client.

Sara started her legal career as an arbitration associate in the New York and London offices of a prominent global law firm, where she worked on sovereign and private sector representations while maintaining an active international pro bono practice. She was recognized for her volunteer work with the firm’s Pro Bono Award. Later, in her capacity as a board member of non-profit organizations in the US and Africa, Sara experienced first-hand — from the client perspective — the transformative impact of pro bono support for civil society organizations.

Directly prior to joining ISLP, Sara served as an Assistant Dean of Yale Law School where she oversaw international law programs and was the founding Director of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights. Her earlier experience includes serving as the inaugural Executive Director of Cornell Law School’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice. She also spent a year on secondment to the Ministry of Justice in Tbilisi, Georgia, where she advised on investor-state disputes and law reform efforts.

Sara holds undergraduate, J.D., and LL.M. degrees from Cornell University, as well as a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University. At Cornell Law School, Sara served as Article Editor of the Cornell Law Review. Sara also has served on the fiduciary boards and international advisory boards of several non-profit organizations based in the United States, Africa, MENA, and Latin America. She is fluent in Spanish and English.

Hawley Johnson, Associate Director, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University

Dr. Hawley Johnson is the Associate Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression. Since 2014 she has managed the development of the Case Law Database which hosts analyses of seminal freedom of expression court rulings from more than 130 countries. Hawley has over twelve years of experience in international media development both academically and professionally, with a focus on Eastern Europe. From 2013-2014 she worked with the award-winning Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to launch the Investigative Dashboard (ID), a joint effort with Google Ideas offering specialized databases and research tools for journalists in emerging democracies. Previously, as the Associate Director of the Media and Conflict Resolution Program at New York University, she oversaw the implementation of over eight US government sponsored media development programs in eleven countries. In 2012, she completed her Ph.D. in Communications at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her dissertation – a study of the evolution of media development policies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia – was grounded in extensive field research in the region. She has a M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a B.A. in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University.

Judge Darian Pavli, European Court of Human Rights

Judge Darian Pavli has served as judge of the European Court of Human Rights, elected in respect of Albania, since January 2019. Before joining the Court, Judge Pavli had an extensive human rights law practice, which included litigation before leading international human rights courts and mechanisms. His work maintained a strong focus on freedom of expression, civil rights, and national security-related restrictions of rights, among others. He has also contributed to various standard-setting efforts in Europe, the Americas and other regions. In recent years, Judge Pavli advised the Parliament of Albania on matters related to major justice reforms, as well as defamation and freedom of information law reforms. Judge Pavli holds advanced law degrees from Central European University and New York University Law School.

Kola Alapinni, Trustee and Director of Operations & General Counsel, the Foundation for Religious Freedom; Barrister & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Nigeria

Kola Alapinni is an International Human Rights Lawyer from Nigeria, who has 25 years experience of studying and practising international human rights laws. He received his LLM in International Human Rights Law from the Essex Law School at the University of Essex, United Kingdom. In Nigeria, he was the leading counsel of the legal team that secured the quashing of the conviction of the minor, Omar Farouq Bashir from a 10 year imprisonment term for alleged blasphemy and got the Kano State court’s death sentence of Sufi singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy overturned. The case is currently before the Supreme Court of Nigeria where a further appeal on the constitutionality of the Sharia Law is being contested. He is a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Peter Noorlander, Consultant on social justice law and policy, civil society empowerment and organizational development. Co-founded and led

Peter Noorlander is a consultant to NGOs and other organisations on issues of social justice law and policy, civil society empowerment and organisational development. Previously, he was chief executive of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, an organisation that provides legal aid to independent media and journalists and fights strategic litigation to enforce respect for media freedom. Peter is a lawyer who has specialised in the fields of media law and human rights. He has litigated at various national and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee, and has won standard-setting cases on issues ranging from licensing of media to excessive defamation awards. Prior to joining the Media Legal Defence Initiative, he was Senior Legal Advisor for the Open Society Foundations’ Media Program, and from 2001-2007 he served as legal officer and then senior legal officer at ARTICLE 19, the global freedom of expression organisation.

Richard WinfieldRichard N. Winfield, Co-founder and Chair of the Media Law Working Group, ISLP

Dick teaches media law at Columbia and Fordham law schools, and serves as of counsel in the international law firm of Clifford Chance (having initially been a Partner at Rogers & Wells), where he was engaged in a communications and commercial litigation practice with emphasis on First Amendment litigation. Dick was for many years General Counsel for the Associated Press, and has worked closely with American publishers and editors, defending the organization as well as other media clients in hundreds of press freedom cases.
Dick’s deep involvement in extending freedom of the press is reflected in his pro bono, volunteer work, teaching, and previous law practice. Having worked abroad in over 20 countries, Dick created and co-chairs ISLP’s media law working group, and in 2015 was honored by the organization with its Global Pro Bono Visionary award. In addition to serving as ISLP’s Board Treasurer, he was chair of The Fund for Peace, a Washington-based NGO, and the World Press Freedom Committee.

Dick has an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He served his country as a U.S. naval officer for four years, when he taught European history as well as U.S. diplomatic history at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

ISLP Resources:

Using International Law to Defend Free Speech in the Information Age: ISLP Toolkit for Advocates

Belgium: Observations Submitted by ISLP As Third-Party Intervenor – Van Ballaer v. Belgium

Palestine: Appeal Case No. 243/2022 – Abdul Rahman Asaad Aref Thaher v. State Attorney

Algeria: ISLP Amicus Curiae Brief – People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria v. Said Boudour

Algeria: ISLP Amicus Curiae Brief – People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria v. Ahmed Manseri

Judge Darian Pavli – European Court of Human Rights Relevant Case Law:

Freedom of Expression: General principles; criminal sanctions for speech offences and other interferences with the freedom of expression during criminal proceedings

Stoll v. Switzerland

Savva Terentyev v. Russia

E.S. v. Austria

Tagiyev and Huseynov v. Azerbaijan

Bédat v. Switzerland

Haldimann and Others v. Switzerland

Stern Taulats and Roura Capellera v. Spain

Bowman v. the United Kingdom

Altuğ Taner Akçam v. Turkey

Dickinson v. Turkey

Şahin Alpay v. Turkey

Handyside v. United Kingdom

Peter Noorlander – Examples of successful use of constitutional/human rights-based arguments by lawyers:

Mineral Sands Resources (Pty) Ltd v. Reddell; Mineral Commodities Limited v. Dlamini; Mineral Commodities Limited v. Clarke

  • Commentary by the lawyers who defended it here

Lohé Issa Konaté v. The Republic of Burkina Faso

Palacio Urrutia v. Ecuador

Peter Noorlander – Other resources:

UNESCO Guide for Amicus Curiae Interventions in Freedom of Expression Cases

CIMA and NED Report – Fighting SLAPPs: What Can Media, Lawyers, and Funders Do? by Peter Noorlander