US Civic Space Case-Mapping Consultant
International Advocacy & Litigation Department
Reporting to: VP of Int’l Advocacy & Litigation
Project Hours/Estimated Time: 20 hours/week for 4 weeks
Contract Time Period: August 2021
Objective and Structure of Project:
With civic space under serious attack globally, and increasing technology and surveillance providing new threats every day, civil society must adapt and evolve to protect it. Strategic litigation offers the possibility of broad, far-reaching change via individual emblematic cases. While many threats to civic space – namely the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, also protected by the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — are being tackled independently in state and federal courts or regionally and internationally by different human rights systems, these conversations often remain in silos. The impact of a well-placed case has the potential to create new protections for the rights at the heart of civic space – The ability to identify these potentially-momentous cases and provide support and technical assistance to promote their success is critical.
The Case-mapping consultant will provide short-term support to seek out key civic space cases that are being litigated in state and federal courts in the U.S.
The starting point of this project will be the case-mapping exercise that seeks to collect information about ongoing or upcoming emblematic civic space cases in the United States, focusing not only on the facts of the case but its potential impact, and the level of intervention and support that is needed to ensure that the case presented is as robust as possible. This work will ultimately provide the foundation for a larger project that will continue to monitor and update developments in key civic space cases from around the world via an online “tracker” tool that will help inform and promote intervention strategies, public mobilization activities, and other advocacy opportunities.
The consultant will:
- Conduct a mapping exercise to identify and research ongoing emblematic cases filed in state and federal courts that might/will have an impact on civic space, namely the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly;
- Develop the methodology to collect information about emblematic civic space cases and follow up on their status, including the criteria for identifying those cases;
- Coordinate and facilitate individual and group conversations with litigants to better understand necessary in-country and regional context and identify key cases;
- Conduct research in a manner that ensures representation of diverse communities and civic space issues to the extent possible;
- Build a comprehensive, searchable database with the results of this research;
- Monitor key civic space cases that have come up in the case-mapping efforts to track decisions, appeals, and whether there is a need for future intervention or other type of support in the case;
- Analyze the collected data and information;
- Identify trends in threats to civic space and barriers to litigating cases evident from the case mapping;
- Recommend cases to the team that are ripe for intervention/support and suggest the type and level of intervention/support needed; and
- Identify those cases where there could be an opportunity for broader engagement, or in which the mobilization of people could be part of the larger advocacy strategy to support the development of online “tracker” educational and mobilization tool;
Specific issues to be addressed:
Specific areas for research would include, but are not limited to:
Freedom of Expression
- criminalizing free speech;
- restrictive media laws;
- denial of access to information;
- Attacks and harassment of journalists and bloggers;
- Prosecution of whistleblowers
- Mandatory arbitration clauses that target low-wage workers;
- Targeted SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits;
- Deplatforming social justice activists from social media;
- unreasonable or unlawful restriction on expression online or through technology and communications; and
- other issues as identified.
Freedom of Association
- introduction of restrictive NGO regulations and laws;
- unreasonable or unlawful restriction on association online through technology and communications;
- Anti-unionization activity, including proposed rules and regulations that limit employees (such as graduate students) right to unionize
- law enforcement surveillance of activist groups, including the use of facial recognition technology; and
- other issues as identified.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
- excessive or unlawful use of force on public assemblies by police;
- excessive force against protestors by US law enforcement, including the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, arbitrary arrests, etc.;
- criminalization of protest in the US, including the introduction of legislation that prohibits and/or imposes fines on protests near certain infrastructure sites and silences student protests on campuses;
- other unreasonable or unlawful restrictions on the ability to gather peacefully;
- Government’s failure or unwillingness to protect peaceful protestors from violent counter- demonstrations;
- Introduction of laws and policies in the US that criminalize movements including Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) and Black Lives Matter (BLM)
- other unreasonable or unlawful restrictions on assembly online or through technology and communications; and
- other issues as identified.
- Amicus curiae briefs;
- technical assistance;
- legal representation;
- engagement with experts (thematic, UN, regional experts);
- connections to civil rights groups and HRDs facing similar issues;
- collaboration with organizations using similar litigation strategies;
- Legal and campaign mobilization support for grassroots organizers;
- research memoranda;
- information on emergency assistance;
- access to funding; and
- others as identified.
Desired outcomes & outputs
At the end of the consultancy, the desired outcomes and outputs are:
A detailed methodology for the case-mapping, including the criteria for selection of cases, the structuring of the database and built-in mechanisms/procedures to follow up of the status of the cases in a timely manner;
At least 25 ongoing and potentially emblematic civic space/First Amendment cases identified, analyzed and incorporated into a database, including contacts with the organizations or individuals directly involved in the litigation;
A deeper ”diagnosis” of at least 10 cases with recommendations for the type of intervention; and
Final consultancy report with results of research and analysis.
- At least 2 years experience in related fields, and 1 year in a similar role, inclusive of any volunteer work.
- Familiarity with civic space issues, standards, and research. Familiarity with civic space/First Amendment litigation is highly desirable.
- Familiarity with civil society, development and human rights issues, and an understanding of the challenges faced by marginalized citizens and organizations
- Excellent research and writing skills.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Strong technological skills, including experience with building databases.
- Attention to detail, you’re able to scope out errors and willing to fix mistakes.
- Time management, you have the ability to manage multiple tasks and projects at once.
- High level of integrity and discretion in handling confidential information.
How to Apply:
- Submit your resume, three professional references, and a cover letter to email@example.com with “Your Name + US Case-Mapping Consultant” in the subject heading.
- In your cover letter please include how you heard about this consultancy and why you’re interested in this role.
You are welcome here…
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool.