This afternoon, leading human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney (and wife of George) handed in her resignation to the government. Clooney has been a UK special envoy for media freedom since July last year, when she promised to use her position to stick up for embattled and persecuted journalists around the world.
Her relationship with the UK government turned sour this month though, after minister Brandon Lewis stood at the Despatch box and said the government’s Internal Market Bill would break ‘international law’, once passed. This disregard for an international treaty clearly offended the sensibilities of Clooney, and after meeting with the Foreign Secretary, she decided she could no longer countenance working with Her Majesty’s Government.
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) September 18, 2020
Breaking:Amal Clooney resigns as a special envoy for the UK government:“It is lamentable for the UK to be speaking of its intention to violate an international treaty signed by the Prime Minister less than a year ago.....” pic.twitter.com/wK6UFKUfnE
All fair enough. But Mr S was surprised to note where Ms Clooney has decided to draw the line when it comes to governments she chooses to be associated with.
In 2011, the human-rights lawyer accepted a gig as a legal advisor to none other than the King of Bahrain, as part of an inquiry in the country’s brutal crackdown on Arab spring protestors, which led to 46 deaths and 559 allegations of torture. The Bahrain Commission was set up by the king in the aftermath of the protests, and while it was praised for its candour about the crackdown, it didn’t exactly put an end to human rights abuses.
According to Human Rights Watch, the country still carries out executions, convicts government critics, and threatens social media activists. Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, and the king appoints the prime minister and ministers, and is chair of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Mr Steerpike also wonders if Clooney had been in touch with her former client as part of her role as a media freedom envoy. In 2015 an activist was jailed for a year and fined £5,000, after tearing up a photo of the king (who is clearly slightly sensitive about his image).
Which somewhat puts in perspective the UK government’s own ‘breaking’ of international law…