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Defending Journalists and Activists

Journalists and activists are critical intermediaries connecting public officials with citizens and serving as government watchdogs. OGP members are committed to helping protect their rights and safety.

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Activists and journalists are at the heart of making open government work. Without them, the potential for accountable, inclusive, and responsive government is significantly weakened. 

OGP encourages journalists and activists to use the OGP process to help further the right to information and fight corruption. Journalists have participated in OGP processes and supported the implementation of OGP commitments in Croatia, Argentina, Armenia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Yet, in four out of five OGP countries, journalists report harassment, often from non-state actors. In a small but notable minority of OGP countries, activists face harassment, stigmatization, detention, and violence. In 50 OGP countries, there is inadequate investigation and prosecution of threats against journalists.  

Two thirds of countries with problems do not have commitments addressing them in their action plans. This accounts for 30 percent of OGP countries.

OGP is currently working to build on successful existing commitments in Croatia, Ireland, and Montenegro and to share these best practices with others. These commitments provide important protections such as whistleblower laws, task forces, and data collection.

Upholding the rights of journalists and activists and ensuring their safety is fundamental to open government.

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Attempting to Address Violence Against Activists and Journalists

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World Newspapers

Shifting Protections and Culture about Whistleblowers

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  • Protect activists and journalists from unwarranted police investigations, provide access to legal counsel, guaranteed due process, and witness protection. Essential to this is an independent and non-susceptible judiciary.  Mongolia has a new media freedom law, which will protect journalistic confidentiality and insulate the media from political influence. Croatia has created mechanisms for journalists to speak out about censorship. Ireland has adopted strong and comprehensive whistleblower protections. 
  • Collect and share data, including reports on killing, harassment and other forms of violence. Colombia is creating a national archive to document and provide information about past victims of its armed conflict. Jordan is tracking human rights complaints in a database to ensure accountability and escalation of cases.
  • Train individuals and civic society organizations about their rights and the need to actively defend activists and journalists, including online. Norway advances freedom of information and countering attacks through its foreign assistance and development policies.
  • Understand that repression, harassment, and violence impacts women and minority groups (including sexual, racial, and religious minorities) differently. Take this difference into account when planning action steps.

OGP Global Report Data

The data below is drawn from the 2019 OGP Global Report. You can view and learn more about the report here.

These are members making OGP commitments to improve their performance in the respective policy area. As members that have demonstrated political commitment through OGP, the next step is ensuring that implemented commitments have maximal impact.

Indicates that member has a starred commitment in this policy area.


  1. Global Report - Defending Activists and Journalists

    Activists and journalists serve as critical intermediaries, connecting public institutions and decision-makers with everyday citizens.

    2019, Document, PDF

  2. Media Freedom and OGP

    Media and open government are underpinned by the shared belief in open and inclusive dialogue as a mechanism for more…

    2019, Document, PDF

  3. CIVICUS State of Civil Society Reports

    In CIVICUS' flagship annual publication find hundreds of pages of insight into the key trends affecting civil society organisations (CSOs)…

    2019, Outbound Link, Web Page

  4. Press Freedom’s Dark Horizon

    Global press freedom declined to its lowest point in 13 years in 2016 due to unprecedented threats to journalists and…

    2017, Outbound Link, Web Page

  5. Transparency and Accountability's Civic Space Compendium

    Find examples of approaches, tools, and strategies from existing cross-disciplinary literature on the transparency, accountability, and civic participation space.

    2019, Outbound Link, Web Page


  1. Starred commitment Improving Access to Information on Expending Public Resources and Contents of Relevant Registers: Implementation of Acts on Political Activity and Campaign Financing

    HR0006, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  2. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  3. Platform for Protecting Human Rights Defenders

    LU0006, 2019, Civic Space

  4. Escazu Implementation

    EC0004, 2019, Civic Space

  5. Technology Rights and Privacy

    MX0081, 2019, Civic Space

  6. Human Rights Report

    UY0120, 2018, Civic Space

  7. Media Regulations Framework

    HR0033, 2018, Civic Space

  8. Improvements to Legal Aid

    ID0105, 2018, Civic Space

  9. Citizen Access Point

    UY0089, 2016, Civic Space

  10. Create Favourable Environment for Media and Journalism

    MN0026, 2016, Civic Space

  11. Observatory on Digital Rights

    IT0053, 2016, Civic Space

  12. Promote Freedom of Expression and Independent Media

    NO0051, 2016, Civic Space

  13. Strengthen the Framework Governing the Freedom of the Media

    JO0050, 2016, Civic Space

  14. Design and Start Implementing a Path of Action for National Public Policy Enforced Disappearances and Individuals with the Participation of Civil Society and Victims.

    MX0064, 2016, Civic Space

  15. Dialogue for the Analysis of the Impact of Information Society on Human Rights

    UY0065, 2016, Civic Space

  16. Transparency of Privacy Programs and Practices

    US0069, 2015, Civic Space

  17. Media Transparency

    HR0017, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  18. Media-Sector Restructuring

    JO0047, 2014, Civic Space

  19. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    ME0037, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  20. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Carry Out Activities Defined in the Signed Memorandum of Cooperation with the NGOs

    ME0047, 2012, Civic Space

  21. Improving Media Freedoms

    ME0052, 2012, Civic Space

  22. Strengthening the Financial and Operational Independence of the National Center for Human Rights.

    JO0015, 2012, Civic Space

  23. Law on Public Broadcasting

    UA0009, 2012, Civic Space

  24. Develop Practical Guidelines on Departmental Access to Internet and Social Media

    UK0036, 2011, Civic Space

  25. Publish Protection Resources

    MX0010, 2011, Defending Journalists and Activists

  26. Evaluation of Human Rights Obligations

    MX0012, 2011, Civic Space

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