Mugambi Laibuta, Lawyer, Kenya

Mugambi is a lawyer working with bloggers who are often arrested based on what he refers to as ‘flimsy reasons’ intended to harass them into silence. Mugambi felt the MLDI training, which he attended in August 2016, would support him in this area of his work – and he says he got exactly what he hoped for out of the specialist surgery.

“The training has improved my use of comparative jurisprudence and provided me with a lot of useful information”.

Mugambi also has a close relationship with the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), with whom he delivers training seminars to bloggers and lawyers. Mugambi feels that the level of training he is now able to provide in Kenya to junior lawyers would not have been possible without having attended the East Africa Litigation Surgery (EALS) in Uganda.

Mugambi has not taken on many new freedom of expression cases in court as most disputes or issues are able to be resolved quickly due to the flimsiness of the arrests –“it is mostly just attempts to harass them”, he says, adding that the space for freedom of expression has improved recently in Kenya. Six months after the training Mugambi had not yet taken any cases to regional courts, explaining that he “has not had the need due to having a progressive constitutional court in Kenya”.

Mugambi has shared the training manual with other lawyers he knows who are working on similar cases and also shared it in a training session with junior lawyers in Mombasa shortly after. He also uses the manual “constantly” when a freedom of expression issue comes up in his work.

For future trainings he suggested it would be useful to include information on issues that are increasingly coming up in the region such as cyberbullying, revenge porn, internet shutdowns, and fake news.

MLDI has since funded BAKE to deliver freedom of expression trainings to junior lawyers. Mugambi developed the training plan and also led the training. Although he had already delivered this sort of training before with BAKE, he feels that this time round, as a result of the increased knowledge and confidence in freedom of expression law and standards, the training will be even more impactful as he has included more information and in-depth analysis of international and comparative law which he did not have in previous trainings.

After attending the 2016 training, Mugambi was also supported by MLDI to attend Internet Governance Forum (IGF) the same year, in Mexico.

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