Hunt, who is battling Boris Johnson to become Britain’s next leader, raised the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the jailing of activists in China and Vietnam, and the murder of reporters in Mexico.
“If we act together we can shine a spotlight on abuses and impose a diplomatic price on those who would harm journalists or lock them up for doing their jobs,” he said. The London conference, co-hosted with Canada, brings together 60 ministers and around 1,500 journalists, activists and academics from 100 different countries.
The hosts are hoping for pledges about action to protect press freedom and cooperation between states on responding to specific cases. Britain and Canada want to create a group of “like-minded countries to lobby in unison where media freedom comes under attack”, Hunt told a press conference.
“It’s easier to speak up when you’re not alone,” added Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.Britain has also pledged Â£3 million ($3.75 million) to kickstart a global fund to provide legal advice and safety training to journalists, and a further Â£15 million to help independent media.
However, Hunt conceded that his own country itself must “do better”, after being ranked 33rd in the 2019 world press freedom index by campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “Those of us that believe in open societies have to practice what we preach,” he said.