Trump's rhetoric 'makes journalists vulnerable to abuse', says Amal Clooney

Elias Hubbard
July 11, 2019

The pair were speaking at the Global Conference for Media Freedom, an event organised by the Foreign Office in coordination with the Canadian government.

The United Nations human rights expert who conducted an independent probe into the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday urged the USA to act on her damning findings.

While the United Nations cited the fact that 99 media workers were killed across the globe past year, Clooney's comment drew attention to growing anti-media sentiment in many democratic countries.

Governments from Saudi Arabia to China to Iran have long restricted journalists but the trend is spreading, said Martin O'Hanlon, president of the media union CWA Canada, from London.

Speaking at the same event global human rights lawyer Amal Clooney - appointed by Hunt as special envoy for media freedom - went further, suggesting that Trump's rhetoric risked endangering journalists worldwide.

The UK government on Wednesday committed 18 million pounds towards improving media freedom across the world and announced the creation of a new Global Media Defence Fund.

The two-day conference in London attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world, which runs until Thursday, is focussed on measures to help protect journalists around the world.

In his letter to the British secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, Simon said by denying RT and Sputnik accreditation based on a determination that these outlets are a form of propaganda, "your government risks undermining the very principles of free expression that the conference was meant to promote".

RT was censured previous year by Britain's broadcast regulator for breaking United Kingdom impartiality rules in its coverage of the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England.

RT, formerly known as Russia Today, said "it takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media".

Organizers did not release a full list of conference participants but said delegations were expected from nations with dire press freedom records, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In his speech, Mr Hunt said: "Powerful people value their reputations, so the sunlight of transparency is the greatest deterrent to wrongdoing".

"The strongest safeguard against the dark side of power is accountability and scrutiny", he said.

However, Hunt conceded that his own country itself must "do better", after being ranked 33rd in the 2019 world press freedom index by campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney says U.S. President Donald Trump's vilification of the media makes journalists more vulnerable to abuse around the world.

"The country of James Madison has a leader today who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse", said Clooney, referencing the former president who helped ensure freedom of speech is enshrined in the USA constitution.

Hunt also said he disagreed with Trump's use of language towards journalists.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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