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About Index

Index on Censorship is an international organisation that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression. The inspiration of poet Stephen Spender, Index was founded in 1972 to publish the untold stories of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. Today, we fight for free speech around the world, challenging censorship whenever and wherever it occurs.

Index uses a unique combination of journalism, campaigning and advocacy to defend freedom of expression for those facing censorship and repression, including journalists, writers, social media users, bloggers, artists, politicians, scientists, academics, activists and citizens.

Index believes that free expression is the foundation of a free society and endorses Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

The key threats to global free expression

Index works across five major threats and challenges to free expression around the world:

Digital: Freedom of expression in the digital world is facing a range of threats from regulation, firewalls and takedown orders to filtering, surveillance and the privatisation of censorship.

Authoritarian: Authoritarian states around the world deliberately suppress freedom of expression, resisting challenges to their power, including by controlling the media, preventing peaceful protests, censoring online speech and imprisoning, attacking or killing those who speak out.

Politics and Society: Democracies often limit free speech excessively including restrictive laws, web surveillance, media regulation, and excessive use of national security and public order arguments.

Access: Even in countries with greater freedom and democracy, many groups face barriers that impede their access to free expression, including illiteracy, poverty and discrimination, cultural factors (including lack of access to the arts) and the digital divide.

Religion & Culture: Religious and cultural challenges can lead to direct or self censorship, including blasphemy laws, other social or political discrimination according to belief, and direct intimidation.


What we do:

Index combines hard-hitting reporting and monitoring from around the world to expose and raise awareness of attacks  on free speech, with the promotion of events and debate on complex and controversial issues, and direct advocacy and campaigning to drive real change in laws and policies.

We raise awareness
Index raises awareness of censorship and freedom of expression issues through up-to-the minute news, hard-hitting journalism, monitoring, reports and in-depth policy analysis from around the world. Our newly redesigned magazine, Index on Censorship, and website include contributions from internationally renowned writers as well as our own correspondents located in BrazilChinaEgyptIndiaMexicoRussiaSouth AfricaTunisia and Turkey.

We promote debate

The fight for free expression is not only a struggle between authoritarian states and their citizens. In a world where we are increasingly communicating online, across borders and cultures, protecting our individual right to free expression can be complex. Through hard-hitting journalism and analysis, high profile events and innovative campaigns, Index promotes debate and sets the agenda for issues such as hate speech, blasphemy, obscenity and online abuse.

We campaign

Index uses its advocacy, policy and campaigns to influence governments, politicians, and other decision-makers and power-holders including corporations, to influence laws, policies and decisions so that they fully respect our fundamental right to free speech in both democracies and authoritarian states. We campaign: for freedom of expression in the digital world; for artistic freedom of expression; to change restrictive laws; and to raise awareness of the suppression of free speech in authoritarian states such as AzerbaijanBahrainBelarus and Burma.

Where we work
We work around world, challenging threats to free expression in democracies, transition states and authoritarian regimes. We report from around the world including a focus on: Europe (including the UK), the US,  IndiaBrazilMexico, South Africa, the Middle East and North AfricaChina and Russia.

Index is an international registered charity, with headquarters in London and is supported by a mixture of grants, donations and sponsorship.

Index on Censorship is grateful for the support of:

Open Society Foundation

Fritt Ord

Arts Council England

Arts Council Catalyst

Stichting DOEN

European Union

Eranda Foundation

Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Sigrid Rausing Trust

University of York

Liverpoool John Moores University

The Guardian

Doughty Street Chambers

SAGE Publications Ltd

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

Clifford Chance

Registered charity (England and Wales) No. 325003
Financial information
Writers & Scholars Educational Trust Report and Financial Statements
Year Ended 31 March 2013
Writers & Scholars Educational Trust Report and Financial Statements
Year Ended 31 March 2012
Writers & Scholars Educational Trust Report and Financial Statements
Year Ended 31 March 2011
Writers & Scholars Educational Trust Report and Financial Statements
Year Ended 31 March 2010
Writers & Scholars Educational Trustees Report and Consolidated Accounts
Year ended 31 March 2009