UK commits £18m to protecting journalists in danger zones

epa07614270 An Afghan journalist records video at the site of an explosion, believed to have targeted a US convoy, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 31 May 2019. A car bomb exploded in Kabul on 31 May, killing or wounding at least seven people and sending a plume of white smoke into the sky. EPA-EFE/JAWAD JALALI

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Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt announced that the UK will commit £18m to improve media freedom across the world.

The new Global Media Defence Fund – to be administered by UNESCO – will support, train and provide legal support for journalists in the most dangerous parts of the world.

The UK will provide £3m and Canada, the co-hosts of the Global Conference for Media Freedom, will make an additional Can $1m contribution to help kick-start the Fund.

The UK and Canada will use the Global Conference for Media Freedom to lobby countries to contribute to the fund, and sign a pledge committing them to leverage diplomatic networks and take action together on abuses against the media.

The fund will support media freedom in a variety of ways, including:

  • Defending journalists, including through supporting access to legal services
  • Training journalists, including in personal safety
  • Establishing peer support networks for freelance journalists
  • Promoting citizen journalism, including in conflict and post-conflict settings
  • Supporting countries in developing National Action Plans through a dedicated Task Force involving UNESCO and others
  • Assisting a High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom by funding its Secretariat

Separately, from Department for International Development funding, the £15m Protecting Media Freedom programme will seek to tackle the root causes of the global crisis in independent media.

 

During a keynote speech at the Global Conference for Media Freedom the Foreign Secretary made the argument that media freedom is “a universal cause”.

Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, said “today we send a strong message that media freedom is not a Western but a universal value…. At its best, a free media both protects society from the abuse of power and helps to release the full potential of a country.

 

He argued that “the strongest safeguard against the dark side of power is accountability and scrutiny – and few institutions fulfil that role more effectively than a free media”.

 

The Foreign Secretary added: “The open exchange of ideas through a free media allows the genius of a society to breathe, releasing the originality and creativity of the entire population. Societies which embrace free debate make a disproportionate contribution to the advance of human knowledge.”

 

Today’s announcement is part of a number of measures to help protect journalists around the world including the High Level Legal Panel on Media Freedom, a group of the world’s top legal minds that will work with governments and other partners to advise on legal measures that will allow journalists to do their jobs freely and hold those in power to account.

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