Kampala- A Ugandan lawyer is among the 16 people unveiled at the weekend to head a high level panel of experts to defend media freedom around the world.
Ms Catherine Anite, a human rights advocate and a freedom of expression expert, is among the only two Africans selected onto the panel at a function held in the United Kingdom.
The team of legal experts was announced by Lord Neuberger, the chair of the High level panel of legal experts and Amal Clooney, the deputy chair of the panel.
The high level panel is an independent body convened at the request of the UK and Canadian government and chaired by Nueberger, the former president of the UK Supreme Court.
The core objective of the independent high level panel of legal experts is to examine legal and policy initiatives that countries can adopt to improve media freedom.
Other roles will be; proposing legal and other initiatives that can be taken by governments to ensure existing international obligations relating to media freedom are enforced, advising on any new international commitments by governments that would help to prevent and reverse media abuses, supporting governments to repeal legislation that is outdated or restricts media freedom and promoting the best practice and model legislation to protect a vibrant free press.
Ms Anite could not hide her excitement of joining other legal minds around the world to defend the media space and freedoms.
“I am delighted to join some of the world’s best legal minds to champion media and press rights through advocating for better policy and legal operational environment. The panel’s work will include advising and ensuring that governments fulfil international obligations on media freedom and in some cases apply legal tools like sanctions to increase compliance,” Ms Anite said yesterday.
She added: “Our work aims at reducing State restrictions on freedom of expression, specifically, journalists’ rights which over the years have severely been repressed.”
The global campaign for media freedom aims to shine a spotlight on media abuses and reverse the trend of violence against journalists as their carry on with their work.
The other high level panel of experts who were announced besides Ms Anite were; Irwin Cotler (Canada), Hina Jilani (Pakistan), Dario Milo (South Africa), Amal Clooney (deputy chair, UK), Sarah Cleveland (US), Baroness Helen Kennedy (UK), Nadim Houry (Lebanon), Can Yeginsu (Turkey/UK), Karuna Nundy (India), Galina Arapova (Russia), Justice Manuel Jose Cepeda Espinosa (Colombia), Prof Kyung-Sin Park (South Korea), Baroness Francoise Tulkens (Belgium) and Judge Robert D. Sack (US).
Mr Daniel Kalinaki, the general manager, Editorial, NMG-Uganda, said: “Catherine is a good lawyer and committed to freedom of expression. It is good for her and Uganda, that she is on the panel.”
Ms Anite is the founding director of the Freedom of Expression Hub, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote and defend the right to freedom of expression in Uganda and East African region through research and documentation. She has previously worked as senior programme officer, Media, Safety and Protection at Article 19 in Nairobi and as chief legal officer at the Human Rights Network for Journalists, where she founded the legal department.