Amal Clooney protects journalists. We asked him about the decrease in press freedom in Asia.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney holds a press briefing for her campaign for media freedom. Photo: DAMIEN MEYER / AFP
At a recent press conference, leading human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, along with members of her international legal team, expressed concern over the state of press freedom in Southeast Asia. East.
Clooney, who defends Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa against a series of accusations stemming from her outspokenness in the Philippines, spoke at a private media panel held Nov. 22 with reporters before the country’s next elections.
“Maria is a journalist, but let’s be clear because for every Maria there are hundreds of others who will choose to be silent rather than face what she is facing,” Clooney said, adding that to remain silent was “quite understandable” given the state of decline. press freedom and “unprecedented threats” to journalists in the region.
“This is the reason why Maria’s courage is so exemplary,” she said, pointing to the 21 journalists who have been “murdered with impunity” in the Philippines since President Rodrigo came to power. Duterte in 2016.
The pandemic has only accelerated the crackdown on press freedom by authoritarian governments across Southeast Asia, with human rights groups warning of the erosion of the freedom of expression and expression.
“As the pandemic has worsened in many countries, authoritarian regimes and powers in Southeast Asia have no longer become emboldened to use emergency powers and public health measures to justify the crackdown on the freedom of speech, ”Roger Huang, previously Sydney-based politics professor at Macquarie University, told VICE World News.
Responding to questions from VICE World News, Clooney spoke about the impact of colonial-era laws on free speech in the region. Myanmar, in particular, has used this outdated legislation to brutal effect, severely cracking down on press freedom in recent years.
Clooney brought up the cases of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, whom she represented after their arrest and imprisonment in Myanmar in 2017 while working on an investigation into the murder of Rohingya Muslims. They were charged under the Colonial Era Official Secrets Act.
“It is time to reform the laws of the colonial era.
She also celebrated the release of American journalist Danny Fenster in Myanmar on November 15, detained by the military since May and charged with sedition under the colonial-era Illegal Associations Act.
“It’s time to reform the colonial-era laws that are at the heart of many of these cases, including lese majesty, sedition and criminal defamation,” Clooney said. “These issues currently affect many countries in Southeast Asia. ”
She also added that she “paid special attention” to a “multitude of cases in Thailand involving protesters, lawyers and others.”
Working with Clooney, British lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC told VICE World News it was important for government officials in the Philippines, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia, to “set the right precedent” for protect journalists.
“It’s not just about [journalists] like Maria in the Philippines, but also many outside the Philippines in the region, ”said Gallagher.
“The themes that we see in Maria’s case are themes that we also see across the world.”
Follow Heather Chen on Twitter.