Amal Clooney is continuing to fight for journalists around the world. The lawyer, who was appointed as a special envoy for the UK government earlier this year, delivered an impassioned speech during the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London yesterday.
In the talk, she took aim at president Donald Trump and his spate of attacks on the media. “The country of James Madison has a leader today who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse,” she said, referencing the former president who helped ensure freedom of speech in the US constitution, according to the Guardian. UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who appointed Clooney, was also in attendance. “I wouldn’t use the language President Trump used and I wouldn’t agree with it,” he said, agreeing with Clooney. “We have to remember that what we say can have an impact in other countries where we can’t take press freedom for granted.”
Held in London’s docklands, the event – which was organised by the Foreign Office in coordination with the Canadian government – highlighted the need to continue to protect journalists. “Signing pledges and making speeches is not enough. States must ensure that when a journalist is attacked then that crime is investigated and held to account,” Clooney said, acknowledging that the UK is not perfect either. “Last year when Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist, was tortured to death and dismembered by Saudi Arabian officials in Istanbul, world leaders responded with little more than a collective shrug.”
Earlier this week, Clooney announced her support in defending Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, who is facing criminal charges in her home country. “Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses,” Clooney said in a statement issued by London’s Doughty Street Chambers, where she works, on July 8. “We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” added Clooney, who will work with a team of international lawyers in the country’s capital of Manila. Ressa, who was named as a Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018 for her great journalistic efforts, faces multiple criminal charges along with her news website Rappler. She has been arrested twice this year as President Rodrigo Duterte continues to brand her work as part of a “fake news outlet”.