Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Government launches plan to defend media freedom

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new campaign by the British Government “to defend free media around the world.” Speaking at the G7 summit in France on April 5, the Foreign Secretary, together with his Special Envoy on Media Freedom, the international lawyer Amal Clooney, said a high-level panel of legal experts was being formed “to counter draconian laws that hinder journalists from going about their work.”

The Foreign Secretary explained: “Violence against journalists has reached alarming levels globally and we cannot turn a blind eye. The media has a crucial role to play in holding the powerful to account. There is no escaping the fact that draconian and outdated laws around the world are being used to restrict the ability of the media to report the truth.”

He added that Amal Clooney’s leading work on human rights meant she was “ideally placed to ensure this campaign has real impact for journalists and the free societies who depend on their work. She will use her expertise to chair a panel comprising the world’s best legal minds to develop and promote legal mechanisms to prevent and reverse media abuses.”

Clooney said: “I welcome the UK Government’s focus on this issue at a time when journalists are being killed and imprisoned at record levels all over the world and I look forward to working on new legal initiatives that can help to ensure a more effective international response. The global campaign on media freedom aims to shine a spotlight on media abuses and reverse the trend of violence against journalists.”

In July, there will be a major international conference on media freedom, co-hosted in the UK by the British and Canadian governments. This will bring together leaders from around the world to seek consensus behind the measures that can be taken to improve the protection of journalists.