Press release: Foreign Secretary announces free speech funding

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has today (Thursday) committed UK support for freedom of expression projects in countries where press freedom is curtailed.

Today, on the International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, Mr Johnson has committed to spending £1m over the next financial year on projects that will enable journalists and media professionals to promote their own free press and uphold human rights. Funding will be available for press freedom projects in countries where media freedom is under significant pressure.

Boris Johnson on media freedom

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

Freedom of expression is a universal human right and a free press underpins that right.

As a former journalist I am alarmed that worldwide attacks on journalists are rife and increasing.

Civil society is all about free people. Where governments fear freedom of expression they often try to shut down media and civil society, or clip their wings. This both violates human rights and crushes creativity.

A free media is vital to creating a vibrant, informed and engaged population and helps to support a safer, more prosperous and progressive world.

The Foreign Secretary met trainee journalists at UAL’s London College of Communication, as well as Chevening Scholars from Malaysia and participants from Syria, Eritrea and Bahrain on the Refugee Journalism Project – a project based at UAL’s London College of Communication which supports exiled journalists to restart their careers in the UK.

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London, said:

As the world’s largest creative university, freedom of speech and expression is at the heart of everything we teach.

The Refugee Journalism Project based at our London College of Communication is a great example of our commitment to these values.

The Foreign Secretary discussed the importance of a free press with the group, his own experiences as a journalist and the student’s responsibility to do their part to create an active and free media in their home countries.

Over the past 11 years, more than 900 journalists globally have been killed for simply doing their jobs. Many countries are increasingly turning to restrictive measures to control their media with journalists being subjected to or threatened with arrest, detention and prosecution on a daily basis.

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director for Article 19 said:

In the last decade a thousand journalists and media workers have been killed worldwide.

Whilst today we mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the reality is that the impunity rate for these crimes remains staggeringly high, with ninety percent unresolved.

For each journalist killed, attacked, threatened or detained, countless others are intimidated to self-censor, eroding press freedoms and resulting in entire societies being deprived of important information.

Funds will be allocated to projects that:

  • help journalists build their international support networks to drive up journalistic standards;
  • build the capacity of local journalists to help support and safeguard press freedom;
  • lobby governments to change laws that put pressure on journalists, such as anti-defamation laws;
  • monitor human rights violations, trial monitoring and long-term advocacy on targeted impunity cases.

Link: Press release: Foreign Secretary announces free speech funding
Source: Gov Press Releases