International rights lawyer Amal Clooney has told a United Nations panel that global freedom of speech is under threat as she continues to champion her support of journalists across the world.
Clooney, wife of Hollywood actor George, highlighted the dangers facing journalists in politically unstable nations but also took aim at matters closer to home.
The 41-year-old criticised leaders such as US President Donald Trump for using terms such as “fake news” whenever he takes issue with certain media outlets and individual journalists.
“Such laws are part of a rising drumbeat of legal assault on journalists and they are particularly open to abuse when senior officials vilify the media, creating a toxic environment in which individual journalists are incredibly vulnerable to attack,” she told the UN panel in New York.
Further afield, journalists continue to sit in the firing line in the world’s trouble spots, particularly in the Middle East – an issue close to Clooney’s heart that she has long been aiming to resolve.
“Our research targets laws being used every day to punish journalists for their work,” Clooney said of her work.
“Laws like criminal libel, vague or overboard hate speech laws, so-called fake news laws, and laws that muzzle the media by imposing arbitrary conditions on ownership, accreditation and funding.”
In July, Clooney took aim at Trump at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London.
Quoting James Madison, the fourth president of the US who himself championed the importance of a free press, she said:
“Today, the country of James Madison has a leader who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse.”
On Friday, The Clooneys will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary after tying the know in the Italian city of Venice in 2014.
A source close to the couple told People that the pair are “happier than ever”.
“[George] appreciates his life with her,” the source told People.
“They are such a beautiful couple in many ways.”