A Pressing Concern: Protecting and Promoting Press Freedom by Strengthening Consular Support to Journalists at Risk

Launch of the Second Report by the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom

Authored by the Honourable Irwin Cotler, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada and member of the High Level Panel, the report has been endorsed by the High Level Panel, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), in addition to, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Centre for International Media Assistance, Committee to Protect Journalists, Felice Gaer, Former Vice Chair United Nations Committee against Torture and Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Freedom House, Human Rights Foundation, James Foley Legacy Foundation, Journalists for Human Rights, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights, PEN America, PEN Canada, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, REDRESS, Reporters Without Borders, and Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

This report examines the existing State approaches respecting consular assistance for journalists at risk abroad, and proposes a new paradigm of justice and accountability organised around four recommendations:

  • First, that consular protection by the Home State (where the journalist normally resides) is not a matter of discretion, but of legal obligation;
  • Second, that the Host State (where the journalist is reporting) has responsibilities both to the Home State and to the journalist at risk;
  • Third, that the rights of the journalist at risk are often marginalised or ignored, at the expense of consular protection;
  • Finally, that the international community is not a bystander community, but a protective one.

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom is an independent body that was convened by the Chair Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury at the request of the UK and Canadian governments. The High Level Panel comprises a diverse group of leading lawyers from around the world, including the Deputy Chair, Amal Clooney and the IBAHRI Director Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

The event was organised by the Secretariat to the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, as part of the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2020, co-hosted by Canada and Botswana.

Event recording

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Opening remarks

Panel

  • Ms. Masih Alinejad Exiled Iranian Political Journalist, TV presenter and Women's Rights Activist
  • The Honourable Irwin Cotler Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada and member of the High Level Panel
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC Director, IBAHRI and member of the High Level Panel
  • Professor Can Yeginsu Barrister 4 New Square Chambers and member of the High Level Panel

Chair

  • Ms. Margaux Ewen Executive Director, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

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