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High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom - Events and Media Coverage

Recent Events

5 May 2022, 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.

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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

6–9 April 2022, 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.

9–10 February 2022, 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

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10-11 June 2021, 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.

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11 June 2021, 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.

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3 May 2021, 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.

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17 March 2021, UNODC

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.

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15 February 2021, 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.

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Media Coverage

Amal Clooney: A free expression ally

29 October 2020, IFEX

Amal Clooney - International Press Freedom Awards

29 October 2020, Committee to Protect Journalists

Amal Clooney: A test for democracy in the Philippines

12 June 2020, The Washington Post

Magnitsky Act inquiry to hear from Global Experts

08 May 2020,The National Tribune

World Press Freedom Day

05 May 2020, The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting

UK Hosts First Global Conference on Media Freedom

11 July 2019, International Observatory of Human Rights