International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has been appointed as the special envoy of foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to act on media freedom as part of his campaign to highlight assaults and restrictions on journalists globally.
According to The Guardian, she will also act as chair of a high-level panel of legal experts on the issue.
This follows alleged news that 2018 was the deadliest year yet for journalists with 99 killed, 348 detained and 80 taken hostage by non-state groups. The attacks last year spread more towards Europe, including Malta and eastern Europe – prompting the British Foreign Secretary to take action.
Hunt is hosting a ministerial conference in July in London jointly with Canada to draw attention to attacks on journalists. At the event, a panel of legal experts will examine legal and policy initiatives that states can adopt, including the repealing of outdated and draconian laws.
Clooney – who legally represented Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted last year under Myanmar’s colonial-era official secrets act and sentenced to seven years in prison – recently called for the Burmese government to grant them a pardon and appealed to Aung San Suu Kyi to grant them clemency.
Her aim now is to assemble new legal initiatives to help ensure a more effective international response to attacks on media freedoms.
“Through my legal work defending journalists I have seen first hand the ways in which reporters are targeted and imprisoned in an effort to silence them and prevent a free media,” Clooney said at a joint event with Hunt on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting in France.
“I will do everything possible to help journalists to work in safety.”
“The media has a crucial role to play in holding the powerful to account," said Hunt.
"There is no escaping the fact that draconian and outdated laws around the world are being used to restrict the ability of the media to report the truth. Violence against journalists has reached alarming levels globally and we cannot turn a blind eye.”