The IBA’s response to the war in Ukraine
High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom - Events and Media Coverage
High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom - Interview with Baroness Helena Kennedy KC
On 1st May, as part of the Media Freedom Coalition events taking place in connection with World Press Freedom Day, the High Level Panel took part across these events. In the morning, High Level Panel members took part in various workshop sessions related to the strategic overview of the Media Freedom Coalition, and planning for the next year. They participated in conversations with MFC officials and Consultative Network members related to regional and thematic diversity of the MFC, and the commitments of the MFC member States.
Later, the High Level Panel, Estonia and the Committee to Protect Journalists hosted an event to announce Estonia’s implementation of the High Level Panel’s recommendations in Report on Providing Safe Refuge to Journalists at Risk.
This brought together the High Level Panel members, with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic, Jodie Ginsberg of CPJ, Estonian Ambassador for Human Rights Minna-Lina Lind, and Iranian Journalist Mohammed Mosaed. Interventions were also made by the Dutch Ambassador for Human Rights, the Head of the Czech Permanent Mission to the UN, the head of the Department for Information Society at the German Federal Foreign Office, OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Pedro Vaca and Evelien Wijakstra of Free Press Unlimited.
A recording of the event is available here.
The High Level Panel engaged in activities around the world for the second Summit for Democracy, following their role co-leading Working Group Two of the Democracy Cohort on Media Freedom.
Deputy Chairs Can Yeginsu and Catherine Amirfar led a side event to the Washington DC Summit, ‘Tech for Democracy and Media Freedom: Protecting the Truth Tellers in the 21st Century’, at Georgetown University’s Human Rights Institute. The event drew on two of the priority themes of the Summit, to chart progress made to date on the issues, and implementing the High Level Panel’s recommendations, and call for further action in light of the Summit on the issues of cyber-targeting and surveillance of journalists and tackling impunity of crimes against journalists.
Following this, High Level Panel member Marietje Schaake took part in a main stage event at the Washington DC Summit, moderating ‘Countering the Misuse of technology and the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism’. This follows on from the High Level Panel’s work on the issue and spoke to the US’ new commitment on banning the misuse of Spyware. A recording is available here.
High Level Panel member Catherine Anite took part in the activities for the Dutch Summit for Democracy, focused on media freedom, in The Hague. On the first day, she led a breakout session focusing on the outcomes of the Democracy Cohort on Media Freedom Working Group Two, aimed at creating recommendations to States on implementing the commitments. On the second day, she took part in the discussion streamed online globally on freedom of expression online. A recording is available here.
Recording available here: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1h/k1hac0uz36
On 9 2023, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic co-hosted a a side event to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, concerning the online harassment of female journalists. The event was also co-sponsored by the International Press Institute and UNESCO.
Deputy Chair Catherine Amirfar was invited to take part on behalf of the High Level Panel. She spoke to the ever-increasing issue of female journalists being targeted for their work with misogyny. Drawing on her position on the High Level Panel, she called for States to take concrete action to address the issue and discussed the intersection between the High Level Panel’s recommendations and the issue.
, Vienna, Austria
A recording of the event can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/live/oxHttlusHbg?feature=share.
At the conference, Deputy Chair Can Yeginsu gave remarks during the panel session ‘Strengthening the implementation of the UN Plan of Action – Prevent-Protect-Prosecute', drawing on the High Level Panel’s work in the past three years, the progress made to date in the implementation of the High Level Panel’s recommendations, and urging the Media Freedom Coalition and states to do more to implement the recommendations.
Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji contributed to the pre-conference day panel for the working group session on tackling impunity organised by Free Press Unlimited, drawing on the High Level Panel’s recommendations on strengthening investigations.
Baroness Francoise Tulkens moderated the working group session on bolstering national protection mechanisms, organised by International Media Support, on the pre-conference day.
, New York, USA
A recording of the event can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3EKrUfqn348jmjU_HAoguQ.
, New York, USA
'Upholding Democracy in the Face of Rising Disinformation', a side event hosted by the Media Freedom Coalition and Freedom Online Coalition, 20 September 2022.
Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel, Professor Can Yeginsu, represented the High Level Panel at this side event hosted by the Media Freedom Coalition and Freedom Online Coalition. He spoke alongside the Dutch Foreign Minister, the Hon Wopke Hoestra, and the Canadian Foreign Minister, the Hon Melanie Joly, as well as Kevin Casas Zamora, Secretary General of International IDEA and Teresa Hutson, Vice President of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft.
‘Providing Safe Refuge to Journalists at Risk in an Increasingly Dangerous World’: a United Nations General Assembly Side Event, organised by the Czech Republic and the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom on 22 September 2022.
Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel, Catherine Amirfar, moderated this session. Speakers included, the Foreign Minister of the Czech Repubilc, the Hon Jan Lipavsky, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel and report author of the High Level Panel’s ‘Report on Providing Safe Refuge to Journalists at Risk’, Professor Can Yeginsu, President of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Jodie Ginsberg, and Roman Anin, co-founder of iStories, previously journalist at Novaya Gazeta.
In 2020, the independent advisory body to the Media Freedom Coalition, the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, published an advisory report recommending a number of concrete measures that States should take to strengthen and increase the legal pathways for safe refuge for journalists at risk. The High Level Panel’s first recommendations as the creation of an emergency visa for journalists at risk.
The Czech Republic has been one of the Coalition States that has been leading the way, creating and issuing over 600 emergency visas to journalists at risk in 2022. But much more needs to be done and more States need to take urgent action in this area to protect journalists at risk.
, Kristiansand, Norway
Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel Professor Can Yeginsu on the Panel ‘Protecting the European order- How can we expect rules to be respected when judgements of breaches of these rules are not properly implemented? How to close the implementation gap?’. Professor Yeginsu spoke alongside Minister for European Affairs of Ireland, Thomas Byrne, Assistant Secretary General Thibaut Bruttin, Reporters sans frontières, Association of European Journalists, William Horsley, Fmr. Prime Minister of Norway and SG of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Fazlı Çorman and Fmr. Judge of the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Norway, Erik Møse.
As part of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Conference 2022, members of High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom held an event, and were invited to speak at several other events, in line with the conference’s theme ‘Journalists under Siege’ to discuss to the work they have undertaken to date and engage in a discussion around the challenges posed to media freedom and the safety of journalists by digital surveillance and technology.
- Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel, Catherine Amirfar, spoke at an event hosted by Reporters without Borders, ‘Surveillance out of control: How to put an end to the Pegasus Crisis’. This is now available to watch here.
- The High Level Panel hosted an event ‘SILENCED – Democracy, Journalism and Censorship in the Digital Age: An Interactive Dialogue with the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom’. The event was moderated by Pedro Vaca Villarreal, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Member of the High Level Panel, and former President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji delivered the opening remarks. Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel Catherine Amirfar and High Level Panel members Dario Milo and Marietje Schaake also spoke at the session alongside Rodica Ciochina, Director of the Media and Internet Governance Unit at the Council of Europe. This is now available to watch here.
- Separately, Panel Deputy Chair Professor Can Yeginsu also spoke at the Panel hosted by the Media Freedom Coalition and the Freedom Online Coalition, ‘Digital Authoritarianism and technology-facilitated threats to journalists and human rights defenders’. Opening remarks for the session were delivered by Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, , Jeffrey Marder from Global Affairs Canada, Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Quinn McKew, Executive Director of Article 19, and Veronica Ferrari from the Association for Progressive Communication. The session was moderated by Lea Kaspar, Executive Director of Global Partners Digital. This is now available to watch here
, Washington D.C. United States
The High Level Panel, chaired by Lord Neuberger, met in person for the first time in two years on the 9 April 2022, and was then represented at the conference through a Panel event. Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel, Catherine Amirfar, was the President of ASIL during this annual meeting. The Panel also engaged in several bilateral meetings with States and key stakeholders during the travel to Washington DC.
- The High Level Panel hosted a session ‘Safeguarding Freedom of the Press: The Role of International Law’. This was moderated by Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel, Professor Can Yeginsu, with High Level Panel members Dr Dario Milo, Hina Jilani, Karuna Nundy speaking alongside David McCraw, General Counsel of the New York Times. Clips of the Panel are available to watch here.
- High Level Panel Deputy Chair and President of ASIL, Catherine Amirfar, hosted the keynote session with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and CEO of Rappler, Maria Ressa.
, Tallinn, Estonia
The High Level Panel, chaired by Lord Neuberger, met on 8 February 2022 and was then represented at the Conference by its Deputy Chairs, Can Yeginsu and Catherine Amirfar, and its members Baroness Kennedy QC, Catherine Anite and Nadim Houry. The Panel engaged in several bilateral meetings with states as well as in the open and closed meetings and events at the Conference.
The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom participated at the following sessions:
- The Kingdom and the current co-chairs of the MFC, Canada and the Netherlands, co-hosted the closed MFC Ministerial Meeting. Following this meeting, the MFC States issued a Joint Ministerial Communiqué, renewing each state’s commitments to the Global Pledge on Media Freedom. Panel Deputy Co-Chair Catherine Amirfar read out a statement on behalf of the Panel.
- ‘Is the Global Media Freedom Coalition Working?’ – Professor Can Yeginsu, Barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings Barristers and Deputy Co-Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.
- Pledging event for States to present their commitments to improving media freedom and the safety of journalists - Professor Can Yeginsu, Barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings Barristers and Deputy Co-Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom provided an intervention on the urgent need for solidarity and concrete action.
- ‘Disinformation and Freedom of Expression’ – Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Director of the IBAHRI and member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- ‘Interlinkages between Media Freedom and Internet Freedom | Advanced Technology’ – Catherine Anite, Founding Director of the Freedom of Expression Hub and member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- ‘Protection of Journalists’ – Nadim Houry, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative and member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
The Justice for Journalists (JFJ) Foundation and the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) held the first UK anti-SLAPP conference to be held on Monday 22nd November and Tuesday 23rd November 2021. Journalists around the world are facing a significant, yet often hidden, challenge to their role as public watchdogs. The use of vexatious legal threats, often referred to as Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP), have proliferated globally in recent years. They are brought by the powerful and wealthy, eager to avoid scrutiny, to intimidate journalists into either not publishing or removing information from the public domain.
- Day One Opening Keynote: Why countering legal intimidation and SLAPP matters by Baroness Helena Kennedy, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom. Click here to watch
- - Day Two Opening Keynote: Legal responses to SLAPPs - using the common law to SLAPP back by Professor Dario Milo, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom. Click here to watch
, Council of Europe
The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom participated at the following sessions:
- Special Intervention- Amal Clooney, Barrister, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- The Changing Environment in Media and Information – Baroness Françoise Tulkens, former Vice-President of the European Court for Human Rights and member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- Taking Action to Ensure the Safety of Journalists - Can Yeginsu, Barrister, Member of the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and
- Enhancing the Safety of Journalists: National Action Plans and Best Practices - Nadim Houry, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.
, RightsCon 2021
On 11 June 2021, the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom held a virtual dialogue on the use of internet shutdowns as part of AccessNow’s RightsCon 2021.
Using case studies, the speakers considered how shutdowns can be targeted, sustained and prolonged. Panel Member, Can Yeginsu moderated the session, sharing details of the High Level Panels work and reflecting on his practical experiences acting as counsel in cases related to the issues. Professor KS Park survied cases and laws concerning internet shutdowns that are significant for the High Level Panel’s search for minimum legal requirements for human-rights-respecting laws for public control of the physical networks through which internet is made available. Journalist, Sunaina Kumar will speak to the negative impact of internet shutdowns, slowdowns and service disruptions (immediate/long lasting). Amanda Keton provided an insight into the access bans against Wikipedia in Turkey, China and Venezuela, as well as Wikimedia’s case against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights and Padraig Hughes shared his experience bringing litigation in cases against internet shutdowns as part of his work at Media Defence.
, UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference 2021
As part of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Conference 2021, members of High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom held an event to discuss to the work they have undertaken to date and engage in a discussion around the challenges posed to media freedom and the safety of journalists.
Chair of the High Level Panel, Lord Neuberger, the Deputy Chair, Amal Clooney, and Member of the Panel, Can Yeginsu, reflected on the situation following the publication of the High Level Panel’s four advisory Enforcement Reports, on (i) The Use of Targeted Sanctions; (ii) Strengthening Consular Support; (iii) Providing Refuge to Journalists at Risk; (iv) More Effective Investigations. Panel Member, Catherine Anite led discussions focused on the Panel’s work in providing technical assistance and legal opinions to States.
Member of the High Level Panel Galina Arapova, in conversation with Can Yeginsu discussed developments in the Russian Federation with the extension of the controversial “Foreign Agent” laws to international media organisations.
The session was close with a short audience Q&A led by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
As part of the UNODC Crime Congress, Panel Member, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, was invited to participate at the Ancillary Meeting focusing on global judicial integrity. Her remarks focused on the relationship between judiciaries and the media.
, Global Affairs Canada
Ms Amal Clooney, Barrister, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom was invited by the Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, to deliver a special intervention during the virtual launch of Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. Her remarks focus on the recommendations presented to states, including members of the Media Freedom Coalition, in the High Level Panel’s advisory reports that focus on improving international mechanisms to enforce international human rights norms.
World leaders, journalists and others gathered in London on 10 and 11 July 2019 for a 2-day conference to agree ways to defend media freedom. Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jeremy Hunt, the UK Foreign Secretary hosted the conference, which was the first of its kind and launched the Media Freedom Coalition. Lord Neuberger, Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts, and Amal Clooney, Deputy Chair of the Panel, also announced the composition of the independent High Level Panel of Legal Experts which convened for the first time at the Global Conference to Defend Media Freedom.
- Main plenary Day One
- Speakers included Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom Amal Clooney, Venezuelan journalist Luz Mely Reyes and Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas discuss the threats faced by journalists. Click here to watch
- Main plenary Day Two: defining media freedom and why it is important
- Speakers included Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom Amal Clooney, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall, and Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia HE Mr Gobind Singh Deo discuss importance of media freedom. Click here to watch
, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
, The Conversation
, Voice of America
, Committee to Protect Journalists
, The Washington Post
, Human Rights Pulse
, Sydney Morning Herald
, Democracy Digest
, Lawyers Weekly
,The National Tribune
, The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting
, Society of Editors
, International Observatory of Human Rights