Amal Clooney ‘honoured’ to take up media freedom role

Amal Clooney says she is "honoured" to be appointed a special envoy on media freedom.

The international human rights lawyer, who has shot to fame as the wife of George Clooney, has been made special envoy by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Hunt said: "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 There is no escaping the fact that draconian and outdated laws around the world are being used to restrict the ability of the media to report the truth.

"Amal Clooney's leading work on human rights means she is ideally placed to ensure this campaign has real impact for journalists and the free societies who depend on their work."

The international human rights lawyer said she was "honoured" to have been given the role.

She will also chair a panel of legal experts, to find ways to prevent and reverse media abuses.

"Through my legal work defending journalists I have seen first-hand the ways in which reporters are being targeted and imprisoned in an effort to silence them and prevent a free media," she 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."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that 2018 was the deadliest year for journalists, with 99 killed, 348 detained and 60 taken hostage by non-state groups.

The announcement comes ahead of an international conference on media freedom to be held in the UK in July.

Amnesty International UK said that "the UK needs to address concerns here at home if it is to have credibility as an international champion for media freedom".

It highlighted the case of two Belfast reporters arrested in connection with a documentary exposing police collusion.

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George and Amal Clooney
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George and Amal Clooney
George and Amal Clooney, representing the Clooney Foundation for Justice, arrive at the People's Postcode Lottery charity gala at the McEwan Hall in Edinburgh.
George and Amal Clooney, representing the Clooney Foundation for Justice, arrive at the People's Postcode Lottery charity gala at the McEwan Hall in Edinburgh.
Amal Clooney and George Clooney attend a dinner for donors, supporters and ambassadors of Prince�s Trust International at Buckingham Palace in London.
File photo dated 19/5/2018 of Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Clooney has said the Duchess of Sussex is being "pursued and vilified" and compared her treatment with that of Diana, Princess of Wales.
George Clooney, Amal Clooney at the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award to George Clooney at the Dolby Theater on June 7, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Katrina Jordan/Sipa USA)
May 19, 2018; Windsor, England, UK; Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive for the royal wedding at George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Mandatory Credit: Jason Dawson/Newsquest/USA TODAY NETWORK /Sipa USA **NO TABLOIDS**
George and Amal Clooney in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Amal Clooney and George Clooney attend the Costume Institute Benefit at the Metropolitin Museum of Art at the opening of Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination on May 7, 2018 in New York, New York, USA.
Amal and George Clooney attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala 2018 in New York, USA.
(L-R) Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrives at the "Suburbicon" Los Angeles Premiere held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, CA on Sunday, October 22, 2017. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)
George Clooney and Amal Clooney walks the red carpet ahead of the 'Suburbicon' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, on September 2, 2017. (Photo by Matteo Chinellato/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
Amal Clooney and Georges Clooney seen leaving their hotel in Paris, on February 26, 2017. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah / Nurphoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Amal Clooney and Georges Clooney seen leaving their hotel in Paris, on February 26, 2017. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah / Nurphoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Pregnant Amal Clooney and Georges Clooney seen arriving at the Ritz hotel in Paris, on February 25, 2017. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Amal Clooney and George Clooney attend the screening of 'Money Monster' at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2016 in Cannes, France.
George Clooney and Amal Clooney attending the Money Monster Premiere, held at the Palais De Festival. Part of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in France. (Mandatory credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)
George Clooney and Amal Clooney attending the Money Monster Premiere, held at the Palais De Festival. Part of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in France. (Mandatory credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)
(L-R) Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrives at the "Hail, Caesar!" Los Angeles Premiere held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, CA on Monday, February 1, 2016. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Amal Clooney and George Clooney attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York City.
Amal Clooney and George Clooney attending The Metropolitan Museum of Art Met Gala, in New York City, USA. (Mandatory Credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)
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Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: "We welcome the news of Amal Clooney's appointment, and hope it will help ensure the UK Government makes a difference for the brave journalists exposing human rights violations around the world.

"Globally, journalists and media outlets are under increasing attack for their vital work. Concerted international effort is needed to ensure the safety of media workers, and we need to see those who harass or attack them brought to justice.

"However, the UK needs to address concerns here at home if it is to have credibility as an international champion for media freedom.

"The sinister arrest of journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey – facing the prospect of serious charges simply for their vital work in uncovering police collusion in the Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland – leaves us in no doubt that press freedom in the UK is at grave risk."

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