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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 help keep governments transparent and accountable for their actions by ensuring that information reaches the public. They serve as critical intermediaries, connecting public institutions and decision-makers with everyday citizens. They demand data, file right to information requests, and follow the stories. Without them, data stays data and never becomes investigations, legal actions, or advocacy.

Yet, over two-thirds of OGP countries face severe to moderate constraints to a free and independent media, according to Freedom House. 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.  

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.

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

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Protecting Civic Space: Lessons Learned and Actions to Take

A vibrant and robust civic space is essential to open government. While we mark 10 years since OGP’s founding this year, we’re also facing 15 years of a steady decline in civil liberties, including in some OGP countries. In recent…


  • Develop or reinforce legal frameworks that protect the rights of activists, journalists, and independent media. These include establishing gender-sensitive/ responsive protocols; creating mechanisms that allow for independent and public-funded media platforms and avoid concentration of media ownership; and challenging or introducing amendments to draconian laws that may stifle a citizen’s right to dissent. Mongolia committed to strengthen legal guarantees of the freedoms of the press and expression by inserting a provision that secures the right of a reporter to protect source anonymity in the Law on Whistleblower Legal Status and the Freedom of the Press Law, and aligning these legislation with the spirit of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 
  • Tackle disinformation and strengthen access to information frameworks, with legal safeguards against rollbacks during times of crisis. State agencies should refrain from conducting propaganda campaigns and promote legal safeguards to protect the space for independent media and civil society to monitor and flag state-led disinformation campaigns. Canada’s “healthy democracy” commitment focused on media freedom and democratic strengthening. It championed international norms that support diversity of content, and quality and transparency of information. Milestones also included the support of a healthy and reliable news ecosystem in the country. 
  • Strengthen privacy laws to prevent unwanted digital surveillance of journalists, activists, and human rights defenders. Surveillance mechanisms even within the context of a health emergency must be lawful, necessary, and proportionate. Georgia committed to proactively publishing surveillance data.

Find more recommendations of actions to protect and enhance civic space here.

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. Civic Space Fact Sheet

    A look at global progress and member-level examples of civic space work in OGP

    2021, Document, PDF

  2. Actions to Protect and Enhance Civic Space

    Enhancing and protecting civic space is vital to achieving OGP’s bold goals of accelerating economic recovery, tackling systemic inequalities, and…

    2021, , Web Page

  3. Media Engagement in Open Government Partnership Processes: Entry Points and Recommendations

    2021, Research Product, Web Page

  4. People Power Under Attack 2020: A Report Based on Data from the CIVICUS Monitor

    CIVICUS shares the status of civic freedoms in 196 countries, highlights regional trends and gives recommendations for enhancing civic space.

    , 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.

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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)…

    , Outbound Link, Web Page

  9. 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…

    , Outbound Link, Web Page


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