Consider me your travel agent as I share travel advisories for places you might plan on visiting across the world,” began the brilliant international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney as she impressed the audience with her sharp analysis, recounting of high-profile cases and shared her views on freedom in repressive,Consider me your travel agent as I share travel advisories for places you might plan on visiting across the world,” began the brilliant international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney as she impressed the audience with her sharp analysis, recounting of high-profile cases and shared her views on freedom in repressive regimes and the power of sedition at the India Today Conclave 2016.She is wafer-thin, incredibly smart, sports a rock that glints from a mile and is known for taking on tough international cases. One of the world’s best-known international human rights lawyers, in her short public life till date, Clooney has also earned quite the reputation for being red carpet-ready at all times. Married to Hollywood actor George Clooney, 38-year-old Amal Clooney who is an author and activist as well, has fought cases on behalf of well-known personalities like former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. “I don’t shy away from controversy. I represent journalists, political figures, prisoners. When the state and judiciary become tools of repression, I think people need external help and that’s where I step in,” says Clooney.The issue of free speech in repressive regimes is especially relevant in India, given the current tug of war over sedition and whether one has the right to free speech. According to Clooney, it is a similar situation in countries across the world, from the Maldives to Egypt, Azerbaijan and other parts of West Asia, with each government handling things differently.When asked if she would take on the case of an Indian student or politician charged with sedition or being anti- national and arrested and jailed as in the current context, she repeated, “I never shy away from controversy,” adding that even western nations like Britain had abolished sedition only in 2009. Several other countries continue to use it even today.advertisementStifling criticism has serious repercussions. It means there is only one version of every story, one view on every controversy and if history has taught us anything, it is that it never lasts. The minority voice is the one we should work hardest to protect because it is that voice that can challenge orthodoxy, confront complacency and open the door to progress, she stressed.Using several of the high-profile cases she has or is fighting, Clooney highlighted the extent of the problem. Giving the example of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, she said, “He wants to go back to his country but under circumstances that will be conducive to being part of public life. The real tragedy though is that Maldives went from being a dictatorship to a democracy and slid back to being a dictatorship in a short time span. It was a moderate Muslim nation which was leading the fight for climate justice etc and now you have a country that is a ready recruiting ground for ISIS. It is shocking.”Clooney also talked about the freedom of speech crisis in the world. Indeed, 2015 marked the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom, according to data with the respected NGO, Freedom House. There has been a worldwide deterioration in ‘freedom of speech’ in 120 countries around the world, according to Reporters without Borders. In the same vein, she hoped that young Indians will make free speech their cause so that India can have open and inclusive dialogue on some new Rs like reconciling communities, reducing poverty and respecting women’s rights.Her intense law cases aside, Clooney strongly recommended marriage, saying, “Me and my husband (George) found each other and got married late in life by normal standards but we are very happy and I highly recommend marriage to everyone.” by Prachi Bhuchar
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