“Media freedom is under attack”: The FCO’s defence of an endangered liberty Contents

2The FCO’s defence of an endangered liberty

1) Initial assessments of the FCO’s strategy

Will this be a short campaign driven by one person’s interest or a long-term push by the UK Government to stand up for press freedom around the globe? We hope for the latter, but the fear is that this could disappear as quickly as it came.

Scott Griffen, Deputy Director, International Press Institute31

7.On 31 October 2018 the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, announced “I am placing the resources of the Foreign Office behind the cause of media freedom”.32 But, for more than nine months after that, the FCO announced relatively few details about how it would implement this policy.33 The first written submission by the FCO to this inquiry, in March 2019, described defending global media freedom as the Department’s “priority campaign for 2019”.34 The FCO’s submission specified the challenges that the media faces. But its final-section ‘look ahead’ to the work of the campaign in response was less substantial.35 The campaign would, it said, “press for legislation to protect, not constrain, media freedom”. In April 2019 it was announced that this goal would be supported by a legal panel chaired by Amal Clooney, who was appointed as the Foreign Secretary’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom at that time.36 Few details were, however, given about the Panel. In May 2019, Mr Hunt’s speech at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day event in Addis Ababa announced a Chevening Africa Media Freedom Fellowship for sixty African journalists.37 Again, no further details were provided about how the FCO would implement its campaign.

8.The lack of clarity was noted by our witnesses, some of whom also expressed disappointment with the FCO’s past work to defend media freedom. Internews, which was involved with the FCO’s consultations for the campaign,38 commented on the “relatively scant detail on the anticipated next steps.”39 Dr Sejal Parmar, who had been seconded from the FCO to serve as a Senior Adviser to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,40 wrote that “at the beginning of May 2019, one third of the way into the campaign, it is striking that its scope, aims, activities and budget remain uncertain.”41 She warned that the FCO’s campaign risked being perceived as “little more than a public relations exercise.”42 We were told that the FCO had in the past allocated too few resources towards defending media freedom.43 In particular, there was uncertainty over the outcome of £1 million announced for this area in 2017—by the current Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, when he was Foreign Secretary—in terms of whether or how it was spent.44 We were also told that UK Government Departments might have inadequately coordinated with one another,45 or that their strategies had been “inconsistent or short-termist”.46 The NUJ and IFJ worried that the campaign could be “doomed to failure from the start.”47

9.It was in July and August 2019—through announcements around the Global Conference on Media Freedom48 and in further written submissions to our inquiry49—that the FCO gave more substantial details of how it intended to fulfil its campaign. Beyond the UK’s own one-year ‘priority campaign’,50 the FCO said that “we are working to ensure the sustainability of the campaign by designing it as a five-year programme, led each year by a different country.”51 Canada would lead in 2020 and other countries were—we were told— “already lining up for future years.”52 The UK would “[stay] involved through a small steering committee with past and future hosts.”53 Among the FCO’s announcements in July and August were:

10.There was also an update on funding. The FCO wrote in its July 2019 submission that the funding allocated by the Department for the Media Freedom Campaign for the Financial Year 2019/20 was “£4,573,073” allocated mainly from the “International Fund”.59 It said that the cost to the FCO of hosting the Global Conference on Media Freedom was estimated as £2.4 million.60 Furthermore, the FCO said, once that sum had been subtracted from the budget, the remaining funds of around £2 million would be used “primarily to fund campaign initiatives” including the Global Media Defence Fund (to which the UK has committed £600,000 each year for five years)61 as well as “activity on media freedom via the FCO network in countries where we assess it can have most impact.”62

11.Asked by us how the success of this campaign should be measured, the FCO responded that:

We will measure success of the campaign through three principal means:

i) Impact of the Media Freedom Coalition in raising the profile of media freedom issues within multilateral fora and through lobbying on specific cases;

ii) Development of national action plans on the safety of journalists, leading to a change in policies, legislation or actions that improve media freedom in individual countries;

iii) Implementation of programmes in individual countries to improve media freedom and the support available to journalists at risk, including through the Global Media Defence Fund and bilateral funding.63

12.However well intentioned, the credibility of the FCO’s proposals to defend media freedom will face significant doubt. This is not the fault of the UK alone. Around the world and across the years, empty words have bred cynicism among journalists and their supporters. But there has been criticism of the FCO’s past performance in this field. Currently, there are concerns that the FCO has allocated too few resources, given too little detail about how it will fulfil its campaign, and taken too passing an interest in how to make it sustainable. There is anxiety that this vital initiative by the FCO risks becoming a disappointment. The FCO must now move beyond the rhetoric to demonstrate impact in defending media freedom. It must move beyond assurances to demonstrate working structures that will sustain that impact beyond the current year, the current campaign, and the past tenure of Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary. We ask the FCO to provide updates every six months on its work in this area. We will return to this topic to assess the FCO’s progress.

2) A focus on the law; a need for enforcement

Despite many protocols, guidelines and proposals, journalists still face a daily threat—and impunity continues to make the situation worse.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)64

13.A focus on the law—and on seeking to ensure that domestic laws in countries around the world would “protect, not constrain, media freedom”—was one of the first strategic announcements that the FCO made about its campaign.65 And witnesses overwhelmingly agreed that this was an important priority for the FCO. Numerous submissions told how broad or overbearing laws were one of the most potent means of silencing journalists, with laws relating to defamation, national security or, increasingly, the illegalisation of spreading ‘fake news’, disinformation, or rumours, being particularly open to abuse.66 Some such laws on occasion originated from the UK, during the colonial era.67 Several witnesses nevertheless said that the UK had much to offer in terms of demonstrating current legal best-practice.68 Others argued that, before it could lead by example, there was certainly room for improvement in the UK’s own legal environment, especially in laws relating to national security.69

14.Beyond the domestic, the FCO was more equivocal about the role that reform of international law could play in defending global media freedom. The FCO wrote that “existing human rights frameworks and instruments such as the UN Convention on Journalist Protection provide, in theory, for sufficient protection for all”70 [Emphasis added]. But no such Convention yet exists in law. There is a draft UN Convention for this subject,71 written by Dr Carmen Draghici for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).72 But, despite the IFJ arguing that the text enjoyed widespread backing among stakeholders,73 the IFJ’s representatives told us that the FCO had not yet supported the Draft Convention’s passage into law.74 Some witnesses did agree with the FCO’s conclusion that a new piece of international legislation such as this was not necessary.75 And the FCO repeated this point, even when it acknowledged its factual error about the Convention.76 But the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings77—and a group of thirty-three media-freedom NGOs writing jointly in July 2019—have called more generally for a new “standing instrument” at the international level “for the investigation of violent crimes against journalists and media workers targeted for their work.”78

15.Regardless of the level at which legal reform takes place, witnesses repeatedly emphasised that the most important priority was for laws to be implemented and enforced.79 In some instances this might be a case of insufficient capabilities, and we heard suggestions that the UK could offer training to the law-enforcement branches of countries around the world in order to ensure that they were able to enforce laws protecting journalists.80 But the problem, witnesses said, is more often one of governments or state bodies not being willing to enforce such laws rather than not being able.81 Witnesses often paired this unwillingness to enforce at the national level with a reluctance to hold states to account for such lack of enforcement at the international level. Scott Griffen from the International Press Institute concluded that “there is clearly something missing in terms of pressure being placed on Governments.”82 Scottish PEN and PEN International called for “a willingness of the UK to hold partners to account.”83

16.The FCO has repeatedly said that it aims to “shine a spotlight” on abuses of the media around the world.84 It told us that “we and likeminded partners will increasingly be speaking up when journalists are intimidated or attacked.”85 When journalists are targeted, the FCO says that it lobbies and raises their cases with the countries involved.86 It also attends trials of journalists, and the FCO gave us examples of countries in which it had done so.87 The FCO has worked to amplify this impact by using its “convening power”88 to assemble a media-freedom coalition to “lobby in unison when media freedoms come under attack”.89 Witnesses emphasised the positive outcome that such efforts could achieve,90 especially when they were coordinated with others.91

17.There was also an acknowledgement that sensitive cases could sometimes be adversely affected if foreign countries intervened too forcefully.92 Nonetheless, while taking that into account, numerous witnesses did argue that the FCO could and should do more to raise cases in public. Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a barrister with Doughty Street Chambers and a leading human-rights lawyer, argued that “often, silence about those cases or speaking about them only behind closed doors will benefit only the regime and not the journalist.”93 John Daniszewski, from the Associated Press, called on the UK Government to “speak out loudly” in defence of media freedom, including by “naming and shaming governments” who abuse journalists.94 But Scott Griffen reported that “there is still some scepticism about how public the FCO will be about standing up for media freedom.”95 Among the examples96 given were three that recurred:

18.And, beyond words of condemnation, pressure to protect the media will sometimes need to be applied by the UK through sanctions against those who persecute journalists. The FCO said that it wanted to “change political calculations” and “increase the costs” for those who abuse the media.100 This would include “if possible, sanctions where relevant.”101 In July 2019 the UK Government announced that it had “decided to establish an autonomous UK human rights sanctions regime once it leaves the European Union. The sanctions could be used against individuals and governments that abuse human rights, including acts against the media.”102

19.But witnesses were clear in their view that, up to now, the UK had done little materially to punish the violators of media freedom.103 Many argued that the UK seemed to instead prioritise its trade interests, something that the former Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP raised when asked whether the UK would take action against Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.104 The UK has not imposed sanctions in response to this murder while Canada—the FCO’s partner in hosting the 2019 Global Conference on Media Freedom—responded by placing sanctions on seventeen Saudis in November 2018.105 In its July 2019 submission to this inquiry the FCO did, however, refer—for the first time that we know of—to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi “by Saudi Arabia”.106

20.We welcome the FCO’s aim of assisting countries to ensure that their laws protect media freedom (even though witnesses asserted that the UK itself could improve in this respect). We worry nonetheless that those most likely to abuse the media are those least likely to comply with ‘Pledges’, ‘Action Plans’, or a ‘High-Level Panel of Legal Experts’, for as long as these remain voluntary and non-binding. Laws must be enforced and, when protections for journalists are flouted or absent, those who violate media freedom must be punished.

21.We praise the work of the FCO to raise the cases or attend the trials of persecuted journalists. We also welcome the FCO’s convening of a coalition to lobby in unison and amplify its impact through coordination with other countries. However, the FCO must do more in public to shame perpetrators; including when those perpetrators are governments. There is concern that the FCO’s preferred method is a firm word behind closed doors, especially when other UK interests are involved. The UK is seen, quite literally in some cases, as trading away its values. Three cases were repeated among those raised by our witnesses:

22.In general, the FCO should use sanctions to punish abusers of the media through a material cost, such as economic sanctions or travel bans. It should likewise coordinate such action with other countries, to amplify its impact.

3) The evolving threat online

Even my own former friends have read this stuff and believed it and sent me death threats. Even people who know me personally are apt to change their opinion after reading only one fake news story about me. This is really influencing and brainwashing people.

Jessikka Aro, Reporter, Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle)107

23.The problem of harassment and intimidation being used to silence journalists was described in Chapter 1. One aspect that witnesses repeatedly raised, and that received little coverage in the FCO’s account of its policies, is how digital ways of working are causing this problem to evolve. The online space is giving new opportunities to journalists, but also to those who want to silence the media. Those wanting to censor the press can now sometimes do so with blanket internet shut-downs, for example.108 Numerous witnesses emphasised how those wanting to conduct surveillance against journalists, or to intercept their sources, can now do so online.109

24.There is also a further aspect to this, and one with severe implications for the UK. Digital methods are allowing persecutors of the media to project their abuses across borders, through the online space, to harass, intimidate, and impede journalists even if they work within a ‘free’ jurisdiction. This problem is worsening,110 and female journalists can be particularly at risk.111 We were told how ‘deep–fake’ disinformation has been used in a bid to slander and silence women by, for example, falsely depicting them in pornographic images or having other fake stories about them spread online.112 Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC described the “weaponisation of social media” in this regard.113 A survey by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) of four hundred female journalists from around the world found that, among other violations, 44 per cent had suffered online abuse.114

25.The threat extends across borders, and online abuses have a real-world impact. One case we heard about was the harassment and intimidation of BBC Persian staff working in London: abuse originating in Iran, and that also targets members of the journalists’ families who remain there.115 116 Rana Rahimpour, a Senior Presenter at BBC Persian, described the online aspect of the threats: “Only yesterday, in a public post on Instagram, somebody said, “When we get our hands on you, we will make sure you are raped before we cut your head off.” That is almost daily, and we have kind of got used to it.”117 We also heard from Jessikka Aro, a journalist who was based in Finland and reporting for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). She exposed the work of pro-Kremlin online ‘trolls’ working from Russia, and told us how she became a target for their abuse:

I became the target of literally hundreds of different fake news stories that smeared me, describing me as a NATO agent, mentally ill, a drug-user and a drug-dealer. They spread memes, they claimed that I had written my [award-winning] troll articles under the influence of drugs and that I had brain damage, and they stalk almost every public event that I attend and make demeaning comments. This is the fifth year of the hate agitation. They mobilise real Finnish readers of their stories to hate me and send me death threats. Even my own former friends have read this stuff and believed it and sent me death threats. Even people who know me personally are apt to change their opinion after reading only one fake news story about me. This is really influencing and brainwashing people. The Finnish police tell me that I face the threat of impulsive violence in Finland if I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have been living abroad to get away from all this.

26.Another example of an organisation being targeted from Russia was Bellingcat, an online open-source investigation collective with its headquarters in The Hague. Its investigations had contradicted official Russian narratives on subjects including the country’s involvement in the Salisbury poisonings, the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and the war in Syria.118 Bellingcat told us that “as a result of our investigations related to Russia we have been targeted with misinformation, smear campaigns, and cyber-attacks over a period of nearly five years by agents and representatives of the Russian Federation.”119 The organisation described cyberattacks targeting its email and communication systems,120 the defacement of its website,121 and “relentlessly negative”122 coverage of its work by “Russian government funded news agencies Sputnik and Russia Today.”123

27.Beyond the physical threats to journalists are issues of harassment and intimidation that also play a crucial role in silencing the media. Journalists who seek escape abroad might face their families or associates being thus targeted in their countries of origin. And the evolving cross-border nature of this threat means that distance is no longer a deterrent: digital technology and the online space give new opportunities for journalists to work, but also new avenues through which they can be targeted wherever they are in the world.

28.The FCO should:

4) The financial threat to journalists

In light of the financial difficulties, the truth suffers and exposing it needs courage. For political money is destroying the media structure through the acquisition of media platforms.

Joe Maalouf, executive producer and television host, Lebanon124

29.Threats to media financing constitute a further danger to a free and independent press. The traditional funding models of new organisations are being disrupted by the emergence of new, online rivals. Advertising revenue is declining.125 Some journalists are struggling to adapt and operate profitably in this new environment.126 BBC Media Action, which supports the development of the media around the world, warned of a “growing crisis of market failure affecting the financial viability of independent media”,127 and argued that “there are increasingly clear signs that the crisis in many countries is existential.”128 This financial weakness affects journalists beyond those who lose their jobs: making them, for example, more vulnerable to corruption,129 or less able to invest in protecting themselves from dangers.130

30.The financial threat to the media affects news organisations as well as individual journalists. Around the world, vested interests are exploiting the financial weakness of journalists to achieve financial dependence on—and therefore editorial obedience to—themselves. Governments are among the perpetrators, with Scott Griffen from the International Press Institute discussing examples of “withholding state advertising from critical media” or imposing “arbitrary tax penalties.”131 The media can also be pressured by state regulators if these are loyal to—rather than independent of—the government.132 But we were also repeatedly told about the problem of vested interests working to own the media in order to control it, whether politicians or wealthy individuals often linked with politics.133 The NUJ and IFJ were blunt in their warning that

Unless new ways are found to use tax breaks, public subsidy, and global funds to support independent media and independent journalism then the concentration of media ownership will increase and independent media will be starved in to submission.134

31.One of the solutions suggested was helping news organisations to devise new business models.135 The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is doing so and, in July 2019, it announced £12 million of new funding for this area with a focus on Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh.136 But witnesses also suggested that media organisations themselves would benefit from financial assistance, as long as this was provided to them indirectly via an intermediary to avoid accusations of their impartiality being undermined by obligation to the donor.137 Also in July, the FCO announced the creation of the Global Media Defence Fund referred to above. The FCO has pledged £3 million over the next five years. However, in its explanation of what this money would fund, the FCO referred to the provision of assistance such as legal support, training for journalists, support networks, and the spread of best–practice.138 The Fund did not appear to be envisioned to support core operating costs, as some journalists called for.139 Daniela Pastrana, a journalist from the Pie De Página media platform in Mexico, told us that

It is good to have workshops and capacity-building, but in the end, how can one produce quality journalism if one cannot make basic ends meet?140

32.Journalists need to fund their operations. And they need to do so without vulnerability to corruption or editorial interference derived from financial dependence on governments, wealthy individuals, or other vested interests. Yet the disruption of the conventional funding models for independent journalism is making that harder and harder, especially given the emergence of rival online platforms and the decline of advertising revenue. These financial challenges might not be physical, like the risks of death or injury or imprisonment. Nevertheless, like the risks of harassment and intimidation, they are having a debilitating real-world effect of silencing the free media.

33.We praise the FCO for its work to establish the Global Media Defence Fund. The FCO should consider widening the remit of this Fund, further to support journalists trying to preserve their work and independence despite their financial vulnerability and malicious efforts to silence them by exploiting it. The FCO’s proposed training and legal assistance will be of real benefit, but limited use to journalists financially. Further to this point, the Government should also consider measures such as expanding its advertising with suitable media organisations abroad, to give journalists a legitimate source of revenue, or taking steps such as donating equipment to lower the costs associated with their job.

34.The BBC World Service was also cited by witnesses as being one of the ways in which the UK could provide people around the world with access to independent journalism. Journalists, or those working to support them, said that the World Service served to encourage or enhance local media abroad in a variety of ways.141 In 2015, the UK Government announced an additional £291million of funding for the World Service. This money, known as the “World 2020” funding, was used to open or expand a number of World-Service language services as described by the FCO.142 The funding was due to expire in March 2020.143 But the FCO told us in August 2019 that a six–month extension had been granted until September 2020.144 The BBC had expressed concern about on-going financial uncertainty for it and other public-service broadcasters, saying in its submission that:

Strong public service broadcasting and publishing organisations, working alongside reputable commercial companies, could become part of the solution [to disinformation and limits on media freedom]. But public service media themselves are increasingly under-funded. A decline in their budgets naturally leads to a decline in ambition and, therefore, relevance to the audience.145

35.The BBC World Service is a vital force for projecting and encouraging the free media globally. The £291 million of additional Government funding announced in 2015 has expanded the World Service’s reach. That funding was nevertheless due to expire in March 2020. The Government has already given the World Service a six-month funding extension. The Government should extend that funding for at least an additional six months, to give the World Service greater financial certainty.

Conclusion

36.Media freedom is an endangered liberty, suffering a wide array of worsening attacks. As an institution that is meant to scrutenise and speak truth to power, and an essential pillar of a democratic state, the decline of the free press—and the willingness of political leaders to attack journalists and media organisations—is a development that should worry us all. Media freedom underpins stability, prosperity, and good governance. Unfettered access to factual reporting should inform the decisions that we all make: as individuals, nations, or a global community. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said that the UK will defend media freedom. We, and everyone else committed to that goal, welcome the FCO’s announcement and its initiatives so far. Nevertheless, it is time to seek real impact and the FCO can, and must, go further. The current initiatives from the FCO are too reliant on the word and goodwill of those with a record of abusing the media, especially of the governments who have been among the worst perpetrators. There must be more public and more palpable ways to hold violators to account, using international coordination where possible and international mechanisms if necessary. Furthermore, the FCO has not done enough to address how threats can reach through digital platforms to harm any journalist wherever they are in the world. Nor has the FCO addressed how good laws, good training, and good protection will still be wasted if journalists cannot finance their operations and make a living. The UK can expect the world’s attention for its campaign to defend media freedom but confidence is earned, not announced.


31 Scott Griffen, Q46

33 A full list of the FCO’s announcements relating to its media-freedom campaign are available on the Gov.uk website under Global Conference for Media Freedom: London 2019

34 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 1.1

35 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) Section 5 (paras 5.1 to 5.11)

36 Gov.uk, Jeremy Hunt and Amal Clooney agree joint legal plan to defend media freedom, 5 April 2019. Amal Clooney was in fact subsequently designated Deputy Chair of the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts, with Rt. Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, former President of the UK Supreme Court, designated Chair.

38 Internews, a charity working to develop local media worldwide, (GMF0011) paras 3 and 21

39 Internews (GMF0011) para 21

40 Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) para 2

41 Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) para 19

42 Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) para 24

43 See for example Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) paras 5.1 and 5.5; Professor Ivor Gaber, the UK’s representative on the main UN body charged with monitoring and defending press freedom (GMF0001) paras 3.12 and 3.7; and Internews (GMF0011) paras 9 and 21. An exception was the group International Media Support, which argued that “although the US provides a plurality of the global media development budget, the UK punches far above its weight in comparison to all other big donors, especially the EC, France, Germany, and Japan” (GMF0007) para 9

44 See Internews (GMF0011) para 11; and NUJ/IFJ (GMF0010) para 73

45 Internews focused on the roles of the FCO and Department for International Development (DFID) arguing that they “do not appear to be collaborating as much as we would like” Q54 and (GMF0011) para 14. BBC Media Action said it would like to see “more joined up approaches across the two departments” (GMF0024) para 5. The Home Office was described as denying visas to at-risk journalists or their families and associates by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC (Q10 and Q22); Rana Rahimpour, a Senior Presenter for the BBC Persian Service (Q115); and English PEN (GMF0008) p1.

46 BBC Media Action (GMF0024) para 27. Reporters Without Borders wrote that “it remains unclear whether the new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, will fulfil his predecessor’s commitment to champion global media freedom beyond the July conference, and beyond the initial one-year campaign period, as Jeremy Hunt intended” (GMF0039) para 21

47 Michelle Stanistreet, Q46

48 The FCO co-convened the Conference with the Canadian Government on 10 and 11 July in London. The Department told us that the Conference brought together “delegates from over 100 countries with 60 ministers and over 1500 participants from civil society, academia and the media” (GMF0034) para 1. A full list of the FCO’s announcements made around the Conference are available on the Gov.uk website under Global Conference for Media Freedom: London 2019

49 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034), provided to the Committee on 18 July 2019; and (GMF0042) provided to the Committee on 9 August 2019

50 The FCO wrote in its first submission to our inquiry that “the campaign is scheduled to run throughout 2019” and “we will be measuring the impact our support for this issue has had in the course of this year [emphasise added]”, (GMF0004) para 5.10

51 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) para 7

52 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p1

53 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p1

54 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p5; and Gov.uk, Media freedom and journalists under threat: Foreign Secretary’s speech, 10 July 2019

55 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p3; and Gov.uk, Media freedom and journalists under threat: Foreign Secretary’s speech, 10 July 2019

56 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p3–5; and Gov.uk, Global Media Freedom Initiative: High-Level Panel of Legal Experts 2019–2020, 09 July 2019

57 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p2; Gov.uk, Media freedom and journalists under threat: Foreign Secretary’s speech, 10 July 2019; and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p3

58 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p2; Gov.uk, Media freedom and journalists under threat: Foreign Secretary’s speech, 10 July 2019; and Gov.uk, Global pledge on media freedom, 11 July 2019

59 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p5. In its March 2019 submission, the FCO had said that “£294,000” had been allocated for work on media freedom, from the “Global Britain Fund” (GMF0004) para 4.5. In August 2019, explaining the difference between the amounts and the names of the funds, the FCO explained that 1) the £294,000 allocated in March 2019 had been supplemented by an additional £4.1 million in April 2019 and 2) that a different name had begun to be used for the same fund/budget: formerly the “FCO departmental programme budget” or “Global Britain Fund”, and subsequently the “International Programme” fund (GMF0042) p3.

60 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p6

61 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) para 7

62 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p6

63 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p2

64 NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 13

65 In March 2019, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 5.2. It was later explained that the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts would be a key mechanism for achieving this.

66 The FCO identified this issue in its March 2019 written submission (GMF0004) paras 2.6 and 2.7. See also UNESCO (GMF0005) p1; Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 6; the International Press Institute (Scott Griffen) Q42 and GMF0019 paras 11 and 20; Scottish PEN and PEN International (GMF0030) pages 2 and 3; Index on Censorship (GMF0017) para 5; NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) paras 27, 46, 47; and 49; Albany Associates (GMF0006) p4; and Olga Robinson, Q36; or examples give by journalists about particular countries or regions such as Daoud Kuttab (GMF0012) para 2 for the Middle East; Joan Chirwa (GMF0013) para 6 for Zambia; and Paula Caruana Galizia (GMF0025) para 19.6.2 for Malta.

67 See for example Burma Campaign UK (GMF0002) paras 2 and 15; Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 4.3; and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC. Q6

68 See for example Scottish PEN and PEN International (GMF0030) p3; Albany Associates (GMF0006) p2; the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 3.1; NewsGuard Technologies (GMF0023) para 9; and Joan Chirwa (GMF0013) para 7.

69 See for example Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) paras 9 and 10; NUJ and IFJ paras 28–45; International Media Support (GMF0007) para 13; Internews (GMF0011) para 16; Index on Censorship (GMF0017) Introduction; and Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) paras 10, 15, and 25.

70 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 4.22

71 The full draft text is available on the website of the International Federation of Journalists

72 See accounts of the draft convention given by Michelle Stanistreet in Q57 and Q62, and Dr Carmen Draghici in GMF0031. They told us that the Draft Convention aimed to put multiple existing elements into once place, raising their profile and making them more easily enforceable.

73 NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) paras 21 and 22; and Michelle Stanistreet Q58 where she said that “there is an international desire to see a convention put in place.”

74 See NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 22; and Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary of the NUJ, which is part of the IFJ) Q53 and Q57 where she said “we have been frustrated that there has not been immediate full support for the IFJ’s work on a convention of safety” from the FCO, and Q58

75 See, for example, Dr Sejal Parmar who argued that the Draft Convention by the IFJ had “not gathered broad support from human rights organisations” and that “the actual existing body of international human rights law provides a more than adequate normative framework for the promotion of the safety of journalists internationally […] the dedication of energy and resources towards a new treaty is unnecessary” (GMF0022) para 29; and Reporters Without Borders who wrote that they “questioned the need for the creation of an additional international structure and newly defined commitments to media freedom, as numerous structures and commitments already exist” (GMF0039) para 14

76 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p4

77 Agnes Callamard was writing in her Report for the Investigation into the unlawful death of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, 19 June 2019, Part VII, Recommendations, C, para 476.

78 See Recommended Commitments for States attending the Media Freedom Conference, Recommendation 5, Article 19, 9 July 2019. Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC made a similar call for such an instrument in Q6

79 See for example Julie Posetti, Q6; Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Q6; NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 13; and Dr Sejal Parmar who said that “legal initiatives by themselves, including the proposal of legal reforms by the Legal Panel, will not be sufficient to address deep-rooted challenges to media freedom”

80 See for example Scott Griffen, Q53; Julie Posetti, Q14; Beata Balogová, Editor-in-Chief of the SME newspaper in Slovakia, in Q115 and (GMF0018) para 8; and NUJ/IJF (GMF0010) para 26. Journalists who highlighted the importance of enhancing the capabilities of the police included Joan Chirwa (GMF0013) Recommendations; and Jessikka Aro, Q119.

81 See for example Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 14.

82 Scott Griffen, Q59

83 Scottish PEN and PEN International (GMF0030) p2

84 The FCO repeats this phrase in different statements. See for example Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 1.1; Gov.uk, Britain champions free speech, so we’re leading the war on fake news: article by Jeremy Hunt, 01 November 2018; Gov.uk, Jeremy Hunt and Amal Clooney agree joint legal plan to defend media freedom, 5 April 2019

85 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) para 1

86 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) paras 4.10 and 5.5. See, for example, the FCO’s account of raising the case of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Saudi Arabia in (GMF0004) para 4.4 or raising with Iran the harassment of BBC Persian Service staff (GMF0004) para 4.11.

87 See for example the FCO’s account of it attending the trials of persecuted journalists in the Philippines (GMF0004) para 4.10; China (GMF0004) para 4.9; and Myanmar (Gov.uk, Britain champions free speech, so we’re leading the war on fake news: article by Jeremy Hunt, 01 November 2018).

88 Foreign and Commonwealth (GMF0034) para 1

89 See Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p3; and Gov.uk, Media freedom and journalists under threat: Foreign Secretary’s speech, 10 July 2019

90 See International Media Support (GMF0007) para 13. Dr Carmen Draghici wrote that “the efficacy of international law relies on peer pressure” (GMF0031) Executive Summary. The International Press Institute said that it was beneficial for officials to attend trials (GMF0019) para 27. See examples of the FCO raising cases given by Rana Rahimpour, Q115; Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Q29; English PEN (GMF0008) p1

91 See for example Rana Rahimpour, Q115; Index on Censorship (GMF0017) para 15; and Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 4.10

92 See for example Rana Rahimpour, Q121; Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC in Q3 and Q4; and International Press Institute (GMF0019) para 26

93 Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Q4

94 John Daniszewski, Vice President for Standards, Associated Press (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee)

95 Scott Griffen, Q46

96 Others who called for the FCO to be more public in its criticism of those who persecute journalists were Beata Balogová Q115; Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 22; and Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 3.1

97 See for example Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 18; Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a lawyer for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Q5 and Q7; and Beata Balogová, Q106. Such an inquiry was a key demand for the sons of Daphne Caruana Galizia, writing in their submission (GMF0025).

98 See for example Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 17; Scott Griffen, Q45; and Albany Associates (GMF0006) p4

99 The Committee received written submissions from journalists in Turkey too fearful of reprisals to have their names or their views made public. Among those witnesses to accuse the FCO of not doing enough to speak out in public regarding Turkey were Professor Jackie Harrison, Q19 and Q20; Scott Griffen, Q46; Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Q24; Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) para 26; and PEN International and Scottish PEN (GMF0030) p3

100 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) para 2

101 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 5.5

103 See for example Michelle Stanistreet, Q45; Scott Griffen Q45 and Q47; Reporters Without Borders (GMF0039) para 16 and 20; and Dr Sejal Parmar (GMF0022) para 26

104 See for example Mr Hunt’s answer before the Committee in October 2018 when he said “we have a commercial relationship, and there are jobs in the UK at stake” (Oral evidence taken on 31 October 2018, HC538, Q386); or at the July 2019 Global Conference on Media Freedom when he referred to the need to “create prosperity, to create jobs for people” YouTube, Defend Media Freedom Conference: Day 1 Main Plenary and Press Conference, 1:36:00, 10 July 2019

106 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) para 3

107 Jessikka Aro, Q96

108 See Internews (GMF0011) para 25iv; NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 47; Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) paras 2.3 and 2.4

109 See for example Scottish PEN and PEN International (GMF0030) p5; Internews (GMF0011) para 28b; NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 52; Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 4.6; Blueprint for Free Speech (GMF0041) p3; Gulf Centre for Human Rights and ALQST (GMF0040) para 6; Julie Posetti, Q6; Jessikka Aro, Q113; and the journalist Khadija Patel (Editor-in-Chief, Mail & Guardian newspaper, South Africa) in (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee)

110 See for example the International Press Institute (GMF0019) para 15; Julie Posetti, Q1, Q9 and Q11; and Jahanzaib Haque from the Dawn newspaper in Pakistan who says “greater pressure is also now being brought on journalists through the online space either through harassment or through the cyber crime laws” (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee)

111 See for example analysis by the Index on Censorship (GMF0017) para 3; the NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) paras 24 and 66 “(online harassment of women has reached epidemic proportions”); Julie Posetti, Q11; and the journalist Khadija Patel (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee) who, speaking about South Africa, said “recently we’re seeing a spike of harassment particularly aimed at female journalists online.”

112 See for example Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Q3 and Q11; Julie Posetti Q1 and Q14; and Rana Rahimpour who said about online harassment by the Iranian authorities “there are attacks online, especially on female journalists working for the Persian Service, with the hope that they will discredit female journalists, especially because the majority of our audience are very religious. They try to say, “These women are indecent and you should not listen to what they are reporting”” Q96

113 See for example Julie Posetti, Q1; and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Q3

114 NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 65

115 Rana Rahimpour, Q108 and BBC World Service (GMF0009) p2 and pp7–8. For another example, see Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Q22, who said “one of the particularly pernicious aspects of what is happening in Turkey is the targeting of journalists’ families”. Another exiled journalist who referred to the targeting of family was Gerall Chávez, in exile from Nicaragua, who said “I have received several messages on Facebook saying that even though I am now based in Costa Rica, one day I will return to Nicaragua and pay for everything that I have done (which is working as a journalist). In addition, family members of journalists who are still in Nicaragua remain in danger and are the target of threats. A month ago, police patrolled in front of my home to threaten my family. An artisanal bomb was thrown at the home of family members of another exiled Nicaraguan journalist. As long as exiled journalists keep publishing news online, their families are under threat” (GMF0029) para 6.

116 Some witnesses described the Home Office as denying visas to at-risk journalists or their families and associates. See for example Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC (Q10 and Q22); Rana Rahimpour, a Senior Present for the BBC Persian Service (Q115); and English PEN (GMF0008) p1

117 Rana Rahimpour, Q108

118 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p1

119 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p6

120 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p5

121 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p5

122 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p2

123 Bellingcat (GMF0038) p1

125 International Media Support told is that “because major online services can profile users and thus deliver more-targeted advertising, a quarter to a half of the ad revenue which used to sustain conventional journalism has “disappeared” from media’s coffers” (GMF0007) para 7. The NUJ and IFJ argued that “for every pound spent on online advertising 49 per cent goes to Google, 40 per cent to Facebook and just 11 per cent to the rest of the media” (GMF0010) para 55

126 See, for example, the journalist Daniela Pastrana describing the situation in Mexico: “The Internet has triggered an economic crisis in media houses around the world. In Mexico, media owners do not understand the new media landscape and have left the responsibility of navigating this transition to journalists. Around 1,500 journalists have been fired over the last two years. Fewer journalists have fewer resources to cover important topics” (GMF0028) para 3

127 BBC Media Action (GMF0024) para 7

128 BBC Media Action (GMF0024) para 14

129 See for example references to “brown envelopes” by BBC Media Action (GMF0024) para 12, and the NUJ/IFJ (GMF0010) para 60 and 61. Joe Maalouf, a journalist from Lebanon, told us that “low salaries between $800 and $1,500 a month lead to weakness in the performance of the journalist to reveal the truth and fight corruption” (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee).

130 See for example the Mexican journalist Daniela Pastrana: “journalists are not able to invest in their safety when a daily living is not guaranteed” (GMF0028) paras 5 and 13

131 Scott Griffen, Q87

132 See for example accounts by the journalists Daoud Kuttab, discussing the Middle East and North Africa in (GMF0012) para 8, and Joan Chirwa discussing Zambia (GMF0013) para 4.

133 See for example descriptions of the problem by UNESCO (GMF0005) p1; the Institute for Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 4.4; Index on Censorship (GMF0017) para 3; BBC Media Action (GMF0024) para 13; and the NUJ/IFJ (GMF0010) para 54; Beata Balogová discussing the Visegrád region (GMF0018) para 3 and Q95, Q110, Q111; Daniela Pastrana discussing Mexico (GMF0028) para 4; Gerall Chávez discussing Nicaragua (GMF0029) para 8; Joan Chriwa discussing Zambia (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee) ; and Jahanzaib Haque discussing Pakistan who said “if you add on problems related to the structure of media, and particularly media ownership, the situation is very, very bleak” (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee); and Daoud Kuttab discussing the MENA region (GMF0012) para 4, and (video for the Twitter account of the Foreign Affairs Committee) in which he said that “media in the MENA region is mostly owned by governments, or semi-governmental organisations or, in many cases, business people who are in bed with the government.”

134 NUJ and IFJ (GMF0010) para 56

135 See for example Internews (GMF0011) para 28a; Beata Balogová Q117; and Rosie Parkyn from Internews, Q52

137 See the emphasis on indirect financial assistance by International Media Support (GMF0007) para 13 (final paragraph) ii; Institute of Commonwealth Studies (GMF0003) para 5.3; Scott Griffen, Q53 and Q86; Beata Balogová Q117; and Julie Posetti, Q25. The journalist Daoud Kuttab warned how “ too much interference from the international community can easily backfire and play into the hands of nationalists who will call this unacceptable interference. So one has to tread carefully when international players enter the field of local media” (GMF0012) para 14

138 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0034) p5. The FCO said its August 2019 submission that “the Global Media Defence Fund does not focus on wider sustainability of free, independent media” which it said was “being considered through other mechanisms” including DFID’s support for the enabling “ sustainable financing models for the core operations of independent media organisations” (GMF0042) p4

139 See for example calls by Najib Sharifi from Afghanistan (GMF0020) Executive Summary and para 6; and Gerall Chávez from Nicaragua (GMF0029) para 9. This was also a central argument to the submission of Daniela Pastrana from Mexico (GMF0028).

140 Daniela Pastrana (GMF0028) para 13

141 See, for example, the explanations given by Olga Robinson (from BBC Monitoring), Julie Posetti (from Oxford University), and Professor Jackie Harrison (from Sheffield University) in Q26; or from Michelle Stanistreet (from the NUJ) and Rosie Parkyn (from Internews) in Q87.

142 Foreign & Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 4.18 and (GMF0042) p5

143 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0004) para 4.18

144 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (GMF0042) p5

145 BBC World Service (GMF0009) p5




Published: 9 September 2019