Terry Anderson, Executive Director of the Cartoonists Rights Network International, has announced a new initiative to assist cartoonists under legal threat.
“With pleasure I write to announce the launch of CRNI’s new Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network,” Anderson noted in the Dec. 6 press release. “This initiative is a direct response to findings made prior to the pandemic when a consultative exercise with CRNI’s Regional Representatives identified criminalisation as their chief concern among the various threats to cartoonists’ freedom of expression.
“This sentiment was echoed at September’s Press & Cartooning Global Forum, where all delegates regardless of their point of origin expressed concerns about erosion of democracy and civil liberties in their respective countries.”
The new Network is supported by UNESCO’s Global Media Defense Fund and aims to assist:
- Those who have been arrested, cautioned or questioned by the police, or have reason to believe they soon will be.
- Those who have received notification of a court action pertaining to criminal charges.
- Those who believe a change in the laws of their nation will immediately render them liable to criminal prosecution.
“Naturally the strength of the project will be in the quality of guidance given,” Anderson continued in his letter. “To that end we have spent the past year recruiting a new panel of experts that includes practicing lawyers and academics specialising in human rights and most particularly freedom of expression as well as journalism and media, digital rights and security. In addition to personnel from several leading NGOs we have also secured experts from a broad geographical spread and ensured gender balance.”
Beginning this week, CRNI will run a series of interviews with some of the legal experts on their blog.
“Our colleagues’ shared anxiety about the threat of criminalisation is real and well founded,” Anderson wrote in conclusion. “[O]f most concern to me are the cartoonists who have never had cause to use a lawyer before and who suddenly find themselves taken to a police station or in receipt of a court summons without a clear idea of what will happen next or who they might rely on. I hope that they come to think of this network as their first contact when it is needed.”
Complete details on the initiative, and how to contact the Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network can be found here: https://cartoonistsrights.org/legal/