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Freedom of Expression

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right which provides that every human being has the right to hold and share their ideas and opinions. This right which is an important right in any democratic government, is necessary to ensure that persons and groups voice out their opinions within the society without the fear of harm or intimidation.

This guide has been developed to provide information on the nature, scope, exercise, protection, and enforcement of the right to freedom of expression. This guide contains practical steps and guideline for the enforcement of the right to Freedom of Expression in Nigeria.

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Introducction

Freedom of expression is the notion that every human being has the right to hold and share ideas and opinion about any topic through any media or platform without any illegal interference of the government or other individuals. In other words, the right enables every person to   freely express their feelings, thoughts and perspectives about any issue, publicly or privately without fear or intimidation. Sometimes people refer to freedom of expression as freedom of speech or freedom of the press but the scope of freedom of expression is broader. Freedom of   expression covers all forms of expression and communication-from expressing your desire to have a cold drink to posting a grand mother’s picture on Instagram on her birthday. In addition, the right to Freedom of Expression covers writing a poem about the Nigerian civilian rule and the singing the of ‘the Great Nation’ song by Timi Dakolo.

The foundation of freedom of expression is the recognition of the fact that expression is natural to human beings and guaranteeing the protection of that natural right is necessary to peace and co-existence.

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Scope of this guide

This guide is general in scope. It is developed to provide an overview of Freedom of Expression as a fundamental human right and hoe it can be exercised, protected and enforced.

This guide will:

  1. Explain the nature, scope and limitations of Freedom of Expression
  2. Provide the legal framework protecting and limiting this right.
  3. Provide various ways through which the right to freedom of expression is being breached.
  4. Provide practical steps on how to protect your right to freedom of expression.
  5. Set out the legal options open to you to enforce your right.
  6. Provide the list of organizations you can get support from to protect your right to freedom of expression.

It is important to understand that every legal system is different and changes over time. To enforce your right, you must know the laws and procedures that apply in your country; as this will form the basis for approaching the court. While this guide provides you with practical steps of enforcing your rights, it is important for you to seek and get legal advice from your lawyer.

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Contributors

This guide was put together by a team of Lawyers, CSO Experts, and Law Students (NJEF Fellows) in partnership with NULAI and Action 4 Justice.

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Action4Justice is a group of NGO's united to support public interest litigation worldwide as a means to advance social justice.

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  • Oxfam
  • PILAC
  • Greenpeace
  • Transparency International
  • IHRDA
  • NULAI
  • Forest People’s Programme
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