Nani Jansen '06 LL.M. Wins Landmark Freedom of Expression Case in African Court

Judgment Paves the Way for a More Independent News Media Throughout Africa

New York, March 13, 2015—Defending a newspaper editor who was imprisoned after accusing a prosecutor of corruption, Nani Jansen ’06 LL.M., legal director of Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), won a landmark ruling from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights that journalists should not face prison time for defamation.

Nani Jansen '06 LL.M. won a landmark ruling for a journalist in Africa. Her organization, the Media Legal Defence Initiative received an inaugural Global Freedom of Expression Prize from Columbia University on March 11.
The ruling, issued in December, was the African Court’s first decision on free speech. MLDI was awarded an inaugural Global Freedom of Expression Prize by Columbia University on March 11 for the work that Jansen and others did on the case. The prizes were created earlier this year by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger ’71 and recognize judicial decisions and legal representation around the world that strengthen freedom of expression by promoting international legal norms.
MLDI is a non-governmental organization that defends the rights of journalists, bloggers, and independent media outlets around the world. It was honored in the category of “Excellence in Legal Services” for winning a decision directing the nation of Burkina Faso to reform the criminal defamation laws under which Lohé Issa Konaté, editor of the newspaper L’Ouragan, was imprisoned for a year. MLDI’s brief advocated for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to build upon freedom of expression law and principles established by the European and Inter-American human rights courts. The court’s judgment provided an authoritative interpretation of the African Charter ratified by 36 countries and will have a large impact on the right to freedom of expression throughout the continent.
Jansen, a Dutch-qualified attorney, has been with MLDI since 2011. She oversees the organization’s regular and strategic litigation and has acted in freedom of expression cases before national and international courts and human rights tribunals. Prior to joining MLDI, Jansen worked as a litigation and arbitration attorney with De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, a large law firm in the Netherlands. She also worked as a researcher on international peace and security for a non-profit organization in New York and has experience working in the United Nations system. She graduated in civil law and public international law from the University of Amsterdam.
At Columbia Law School and the European University Institute, Jansen focused her studies on human rights.
Read more about the Global Freedom of Expression and Information Project at Columbia University.