To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts about press freedom.
The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) led the UK’s expression of condolence and solidarity with France after the events in Paris last week and my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Anelay of St Johns has written to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to commend their responses to the attacks. The public reaction was a visible demonstration of the importance attached to press freedom, and freedom of expression, in Europe and beyond. Freedom of expression has been a human rights priority for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), from the beginning of this Parliament; and the subject of an Expert Group which advises Ministers. We raise press freedom regularly in multilateral fora, supporting relevant initiatives and resolutions, and raise it in bilateral conversations – in private and in public. For example, issues and rights connected with freedom of expression, and press freedom, are important elements of much of the analysis in the FCO’s Annual Human Rights Report – which this year will have a particular focus on “protecting civil society space”.