World Press Freedom Day: Freedom of expression as a basic Human Right
Defending free media around the world has never been more pressing. In April 2019, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian FM Chrystia Freeland launched a campaign to defend free media around the world. This will include a major conference in London in July, and aims to shine a spotlight on media abuses and reverse the trend of violence against journalists. British – Lebanese Lawyer Amal Clooney has been appointed the UK’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom and will chair a panel comprising the world’s best legal minds to develop and promote legal mechanisms to prevent and reverse media abuses.
Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, British ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling and Canadian Ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux hosted a joint reception for Lebanese and Foreign media in Lebanon. Minister of Information Jamal el Jarrah, Minister of State for Administrative Development Dr May Chidiac, US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, EU Ambassador Christina Lassen, and over 80 guests attended the event which highlighted the opportunities and challenges facing media in Lebanon and the world.
World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to celebrate the basic human right to freedom of expression: a free press underpins that right. In a world of disrupted facts, distorted truths and fake news, free, credible and investigative journalism holds private and public spheres to account, and helps support a safer, more prosperous and progressive world.
During the reception, Ambassador Chris Rampling said:
‘So much is happening in the world today, and information of one sort or another is everywhere. The facts our democracies need to thrive: this is dependent on a free press. But over the last year again we have seen journalists around the world face harassment, imprisonment and sometimes death. 2018 was the deadliest year for journalists, with 99 killed, 348 detained and 60 taken hostage by non-state groups. In the UK, just last month we witnessed the tragic murder of Lyra Mckee – shot while reporting on a protest in Northern Ireland. In Syria, 11 journalists were killed last year alone, and over the eight years of conflict, countless others have disappeared, or been detained, tortured or killed. They risk their lives to bring news of the unfolding situation to the wider world – often bearing sole witness to horrific atrocities.
Indeed, defending free media around the world has never been more pressing. That is why my Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian FM Chrystia Freeland have launched a campaign to defend free media around the world….Amal Clooney has been appointed the UK’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom and will chair a panel comprising the world’s best legal minds to develop and promote legal mechanisms to prevent and reverse media abuses.
And we, in the British Embassy, will continue to work with journalists here in Lebanon too. I am delighted to see here many of the 25 bloggers, journalists and freelancers who recently attended the Skeyes – Maharat programme supported by the UK and learned skills and techniques to enable them to grow and promote their media platforms’.
Canadian Ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux said:
‘Promoting media freedom is a key component of Canada’s efforts to strengthen the rules-based international order, democratic resilience, and respect for the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
As we mark this important day, the world unfortunately is witnessing a crackdown on press freedom. From targeted killings of journalists, to censorship laws, criminal prosecutions, threats and intimidation – freedom of expression is at risk. While the Middle East and North Africa continue to be one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous regions for journalists, no part of the world is unaffected.
Canada welcomes International law and human rights barrister Amal Clooney’s appointment as U.K.’s special envoy on media freedom and as an Ambassador to this campaign. Canada hopes this conference will help to find common ground among states in addressing these broader challenges to the integrity of the global information space.’