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July 11, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:03am

UK to establish committee on journalist safety

By Charlotte Tobitt

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has announced the UK will establish a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists.

The announcement comes as the UK and Canadian governments are hosting a conference on Defending Media Freedom, attended by Amal Clooney.

The committee will be tasked with coming up with a National Action Plan on the safety of journalists, something which all governments present at the conference are being asked to do.

The UK’s plan will “examine current protections offered to journalists in the UK, and consider how to work together to build on existing strengths,” the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

Wright (pictured) said: “With rising disinformation and threats against the media, the UK’s strong and independent press is a beacon of freedom that this Government is committed to supporting and preserving.

“The committee will champion journalists’ ability to safely carry out their important roles in society and to continue to hold the powerful to account.

“This is part of our broader commitment to ensuring the future sustainability of high-quality, public interest news.”

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It has not yet been confirmed who will sit on the committee, but the DCMS said it would be made up of representatives from journalism organisations and relevant government departments.

It also insisted the committee would not be able to interfere with the independence of the press, although it will be able to make recommendations to the Government.

The DCMS will now agree the terms of reference and membership of the committee by engaging with relevant parties across Government and beyond.

The UK’s pledge was made in response to a call from the security-oriented inter-governmental Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The OSCE urged its 57 member states in April to establish “a national committee for the safety of journalists which would gather representatives of the prosecutor’s office, the police and journalist associations to verify that all attacks and threats are properly investigated, improve procedures if needed, propose protection measures when necessary and implement preventive action to reinforce the security of journalists”.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls 

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