The Freedom of Expression Institute works in the following programme areas:
- Freedom of Expression
- Access to Information
- Access to Media and ICTs
To this end, the FXI engages in a wide range of activities that advance the right to free expression:
FXI Law Clinic: Litigation, legal advice and support
The FXI is one of the few human rights civil society organisations that have a dedicated Law Clinic to handle litigation, legal advice and support of freedom of expression matters. The Freedom of Expression Institute Law Clinic was established in 2005 and is accredited by the Law Society of South Africa. The FXI Law Clinic provides litigation, interventions, submissions and relevant legal research to impact and further the right to freedom of expression, ensuring an environment where the right to freedom of expression can be exercised more freely. In an aim to achieve a legal system that best facilitates the full and liberal exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the Law Clinic embarks on litigation that challenges inconsistencies and discrepancies that exist and affect the liberal exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
How the FXI Law Clinic Works
The Law Clinic offers the provision of expert legal advice and opinion on freedom of expression, including free speech, media freedom and access to information matters. The Law Clinic assists through intervention and mediation on behalf of persons experiencing barriers to exercising their right to freedom of expression, such as places of work and schools. The Law Clinic intervenes on behalf of persons against whom threats of legal action have been made based on having expressed information that pertains to those threatening the legal action. The Law Clinic also provides assistance in the process of obtaining access to information as guided by the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
The Law Clinic also undertakes litigation on behalf of clients of the FXI and intervenes in matters already in the court process as amicus (friend of the court) to give expert opinion.
Individuals and organisations in need of legal assistance around freedom of expression and access to information problems may approach the FXI for assistance. The Law Clinic will afford them the necessary legal advice or, where required, undertake litigation on behalf of persons in need of such assistance. The Law Clinic makes no distinction in the type of freedom of expression cases it will involve itself in and is guided by whether the case carries a pertinent freedom of expression issue and whether the resources necessary are available to see the case through.
The Law Clinic supports cases that contribute to a freer environment for freedom of expression and elimination of censorship. The Law Clinic identifies gaps in the legislative arena where precedents have not been set yet, or where precedents need to be challenged to promote an environment free of censorship, tolerant of free expression and allowing access to information.
FXI Research Unit: Policy research and monitoring
The FXI has been involved in monitoring the development and implementation of policy and legislation. The FXI Research Unit conducts policy research on issues that have an implication on freedom of expression as well as trends in the exercise of the right in South Africa.
FXI Outreach Unit: Civic education and advocacy
FXI campaigns around legal and policy issues that focus on removing old out-dated legislation from the books, and the adoption of new legislation that guarantees freedom of expression. FXI has run successful campaigns to ensure greater openness and transparency in government and its organs. FXI draws on the lobbying experience of its predecessor organisations to create campaigns for change that have legitimacy and wide support.
FXI also engages in mass mobilisation with its partners and allies at national and local levels to raise awareness and demand for a particular development objective. The FXI together with partners is actively involved in public gatherings such as mass meetings, marches, pickets, protests and demonstrations.