The announcement comes just two weeks after the launch of RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, which saw the UK increase in ranking from 40th to 33rd out of 180 countries. While the UK’s improved ranking was a welcome move and there were indeed some positive developments over the year, RSF called for concrete action to address a number of worrying trends that continued, particularly in the areas of national security, surveillance, and data protection, which impact the UK’s press freedom climate.
“We are excited to be launching this APPG at a time when global press freedom is under greater attack than ever before. The UK plays an important standard-setting role when it comes to press freedom and broader human rights, and we believe increased attention to these crucial issues by UK parliamentarians will set a positive international example, as well as help address some of the worrying trends that continue at home”,said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.
The APPG will be chaired by John Whittingdale OBE, the Conservative MP for the Maldon constituency and a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Whittingdale is also the chair of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and has a long track record of supporting press freedom at the domestic and international levels.
“Media freedom and the protection of journalists are fundamental requirements for a free and democratic society. Yet they are under greater threat today than for many years. Reporters Without Borders and other NGOs are doing vital work to highlight the number of deaths, kidnappings and imprisonment of journalists that are taking place in countries across the world. I very much welcome the priority that the British Government has given to addressing this issue at an international conference planned for later this year. I hope that the APPG will ensure that its importance is also high on Parliament’s agenda and I am delighted at the support that has already been shown by MPs from all parties”, said John Whittingdale.
The formal launch of the APPG, to be marked by a dinner at the House of Commons, will take place on the eve of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s international media freedom conference, which will be held in London from 10 to 11 July as part of the FCO’s media freedom campaign. It will also precede the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s media freedom conference, to be held in London in September.
RSF will work closely with a wide range of freedom of expression and media organisations to coordinate the work of the APPG.
Press contact: Rebecca Vincent at [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7324 8903.