of emergency measures
present emergency situation represents a critical threat both to public
health and to the civil and political rights of people across Europe,” said William
Horsley, AEJ media freedom representative and AEJ UK chairman. “Now is the
time for free and independent media and for all those who believe in basic
democratic standards and open government, to combine forces and to uphold the
free flow of information and the inalienable rights of everyone as guaranteed
under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
It follows an urgent warning against misuse of emergency laws from the AEJ and partner organisations to the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, and European Parliament. It emphasizes that the free flow of independent news is essential both to maintain accurate information to the public and to ensure public scrutiny and debate on emergency measures, and notes all such measures must be necessary, proportionate, temporary and strictly time-limited, and subject to regular scrutiny to ensure excessive powers do not undermine democratic balances, including the free press.
The urgent letter supports a joint statement from three global special rapporteurs on freedom of expression with the UN, OSCE and the OAS and is signed by:
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Index on Censorship
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
The open letter is also available here on the International Press Institute website.
There is a global
study showing a majority of the public around the world get their information
about coronavirus from mainstream media – yet journalists are their least
trusted source. Please see
this report in the UK Press Gazette and here
for more on coronavirus coverage in the UK.
Musings on “mad Brexit
The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union - at midnight Central European Time on January 31. For a range of news coverage and what it means please see these links:
Brexit and Quebec separatism
London central to UK future relations with EU?
Rory Stewart, former Conservative MP, cabinet minister, and contender for Conservative party leader, says London could have a "very, very central" part to play in Britain's future relations with the European Union. Now an independent candidate for London mayor in elections on May 7, he told an AEJ UK meeting on January 29 that London’s connections and contributions are crucial to the success of the rest of the UK and it could act as a bridge between Britain and the EU over the next 10 to 15 years in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology while still learning from policies in other European cities. For more on his argument and following discussion please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording of the meeting.
Gambling on the future -2
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won his bet on the future
of Britain in a snap election on December 12. Voters woke up on Friday the 13th
to a thumping
Conservative majority, the resignations of both main opposition party
leaders – Labour’s
Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats’
Jo Swinson, and a resurgent Scottish
National Party seeking the independence of Scotland. Johnson’s
Conservatives won the biggest Conservative majority – 80 seats - since
Margaret Thatcher in 1987 despite taking less than 44% of the national vote
and a mandate to deliver its simple election message of “Get Brexit Done”.
But their promise to leave the EU on January 31 followed by EU
trade negotiations with a deadline in December is only one of a raft of
questions facing the government – some
fairly obvious from the election campaign but others with deeper and
longer-term significance as outlined
here by Trisha de
Borchgrave, artist and daughter of prominent long-time U.S. journalist Arnaud
de Borchgrave. This includes the possible fragmentation of the United
Kingdom as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola
Sturgeon seeks a new referendum on independence and leads the SNP as the
third largest party in the UK Parliament with 48 seats - all but eight of
Scotland’s 56 seats. On the other hand, rumblings about increasing support
for a united Ireland leaving the UK may be on hold as Northern
Ireland’s voters seem to be supporting middle-ground politicians.
Meanwhile the Labour party faces a wrenching period of soul
searching and infighting
over both their leadership and political direction and the Liberal
Democrats look for their fifth leader in less than 10 years.
How Johnson’s Conservatives won:
The future after Brexit
Britain’s role in the world will require a new national strategy if Brexit happens - and that needs a lot more attention says one of Britain’s top diplomats. Lord Peter Ricketts, former UK National Security Adviser and head of the diplomatic service, told an AEJ lunch on November 20th 2019 that’s just one of the multiple challenges facing the UK in a post Brexit world. For more on his presentation please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript.
stops AEJ UK meetings
AEJ UK meetings usually start at 12:30 and are open to journalists, academics and Europe specialists and guests. Pre-registration is necessary by email to email@example.com. A fee of £25 is charged to cover the cost of refreshments - £10 for under-25s and free admission may be extended to students on a discretionary basis.
11 May – pending further advice on coronavirus
Venue: Herringham Hall, Regent’s University, Inner Circle Regent’s Park 1230-1430
Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University, former Conservative cabinet minister, governor of Hong Kong, and European Commissioner for External Affairs. He will examine Europe in a turbulent world.
For a list of our recent lunchtime guests see Events.
Recent AEJ UK guests
China and Asia
UK cyber security
How is the UK dealing with threats to cyber security and
defending against them? As Brexit looms and debate continues about potential
cyber threats such as the involvement of China’s Huawei in 5G
telecommunications and Russian or other state interference in democratic
processes in the UK and elsewhere, Nicola Hudson, Director of Policy and
Communications at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), explained the
role of her young agency. She told the AEJ on February 20 2020 the NCSC, formed only 3 years ago, functions
in two very different worlds:
London central to UK future relations with EU?
AEJ Media Freedom Project
AEJ works to protect freedom of expression and independent journalism by
bringing issues to the attention of governments and advising
inter-governmental organisations on behalf of our members. The AEJ's Media
Freedom Representative and Vice President is William Horsley, a former BBC foreign
correspondent and the current chairman of the UK section.
AEJ and the Council of Europe
The AEJ takes part in the policy work of the Council of Europe (CoE) on key issues of media freedom as a participant in the steering committee on Media and Information Society and the Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists. It works on behalf of its members across Europe to hold the CoE and its 47 member states to their commitments on media freedom and freedom of expression.
To read further, please go to Media Freedom.
Media visits to the European Parliament
The EP's London Office has a small budget to offset some of the travel and hotel costs incurred by journalists when visiting the European Parliament. Only a limited number can be helped in this way, so you must first be invited by the UK Office before seeking reimbursement (see EP website).
A selection of AEJ-related writings and activities
AEJ member Charles Jenkins, former Western Europe editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit, blogs on Europe at https://eupriorities.ideasoneurope.eu/
Firdevs Robinson’s writing is now accessible on FirdevsTalkTurkey.com
Urgent call to stop violent attacks against
journalists covering migrants’ arrival in Greece
European Parliament struggles to reach budget agreement
Concerns about UK government media management
On Feb. 3 - the first working day after the UK officially left
the EU – all British political journalists at an official briefing arranged
at the Downing Street residence of the prime minister walked
out to protest the government’s decision to separate and exclude critical
media on an arbitrary basis. The prime minister’s staff had invited selected
political journalists to a “technical briefing” on Boris Johnson’s plans for
a trade deal with the EU. When other members of the Westminster “lobby” –
full-time political journalists based in the Houses of Parliament – showed up
as well, the group was told only those invited could go in and the rest
should leave. All the journalists present including those specifically
invited then walked out. The prime minister’s aides claimed favoured
journalists are routinely being granted special access to some press
briefings a part of an “inner lobby” while others, essentially those
considered opponents of the government, are excluded. That even included
Press Association, the UK’s national news agency.
The political editor of Fleet Street tabloid Daily Mirror, Pippa Crerar, called the exclusion “sinister and sad”.
questions in the House of Commons the prime minister claimed he loved
journalism – he was once sacked from a reporting job at The Times for
making up a quote.
Justice for Daphne?
Malta has a new prime minister and the country’s police chief has resigned in the ongoing scandal over the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. But there are still many questions for the long-running and repeated calls for justice in the killing. Aljazeera has this report and AEJ UK member and former BBC journalist Firdevs Robinson has this look at breaks in the story. On Nov. 20 2019 one of the country’s richest men, gambling and property entrepreneur Yorgen Fenech, was arrested and in court two weeks later accused of being the brains behind the killing. He’s denied the charges and blamed allies of the prime minister. Two of them resigned and in the face of major street protests Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he would resign. His government spent two years stonewalling any genuine investigation and far longer rejecting accusations of widespread money laundering, political corruption and cronyism. The AEJ has joined a call to closely monitor a public inquiry into her assassination which opened on Dec. 6 2019.
AEJ conference and call for media freedom
AEJ co-signs Open Letter for upgraded efforts to
protect media freedom
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