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New UK fund to help journalism in distress

Under the £1-million fund to help projects in countries where journalists face attacks, steps will be taken to build the capacity of reporters to help support and safeguard press freedom.

world Updated: Nov 03, 2017 23:30 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK fund for journalists,freedom of expression,media freedom
File photo of British foreign secretary Boris Johnson walking to the main hall on the final day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on October 4, 2017. (Reuters)

Britain has announced a £1-million fund to help projects in countries where journalists face attacks and help lobby governments to change laws that put pressure on reporters, such as anti-defamation legislation.

Committing support for freedom of expression projects in countries where press freedom is curtailed, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that as a former journalist, he was “alarmed” that attacks on journalists across the world were rife and increasing.

On Thursday – the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists – Johnson said: “Civil society is all about free people. Where governments fear freedom of expression they often try to shut down media and civil society, or clip their wings. This both violates human rights and crushes creativity.

“A free media is vital to creating a vibrant, informed and engaged population and helps to support a safer, more prosperous and progressive world.”

Funds will be allocated to projects that help reporters build their international support networks to drive up journalistic standards, build the capacity of local journalists to help support and safeguard press freedom, and monitor human rights violations, trial monitoring and long-term advocacy on targeted impunity cases.

A statement from the Foreign Office noted that over the past 11 years, more than 900 journalists had been killed globally for doing their jobs.

“Many countries are increasingly turning to restrictive measures to control their media with journalists being subjected to or threatened with arrest, detention and prosecution on a daily basis,” it added.

Thomas Hughes of campaign group Article 19 said: “Whilst today we mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the reality is that the impunity rate for these crimes remains staggeringly high, with 90% unresolved.

“For each journalist killed, attacked, threatened or detained, countless others are intimidated to self-censor, eroding press freedoms and resulting in entire societies being deprived of important information.”

First Published: Nov 03, 2017 23:30 IST