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Appeal marks Press Freedom Day

“On World Press Freedom Day 2016 (May 2) the Commonwealth Journalists Association expresses its urgent concern at the large number of physical assaults and acts of violence that have taken place against journalists in the past year in Commonwealth countries, as well as the frequent application of excessively restrictive laws and judicial harassment targeting the media. Such patterns of violence, obstruction and undue pressures on journalists often lead to the suppression of legitimate criticism of governments and prevent the media from informing the public about corruption and other abuses, especially in times of elections and of crisis or political tension.

We have been shocked by the killings of journalists as well as of bloggers and others in South Asia and Africa. It is troubling that a number of  Commonwealth countries are ranked low down in the international press freedom rankings of international monitoring organisations such as Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.

In the light of this disturbing picture we look to the countries of the Commonwealth to take effective actions to ensure the protection of free and independent media in order to safeguard the physical security of journalists and to strengthen democratic processes and the accountability of governments, in accordance with the declared principles of the Commonwealth.  In this context we acknowledge the recently agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals, including 16.10 ‘To ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms’.

We believe it is time for the Commonwealth to place itself in the forefront of international efforts to achieve these goals relating to press freedom and access to justice, and to engage constructively together with civil society organisations with the UN’s ongoing Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.”

About the author

Debbie Ransome

Editor, Caribbean Intelligence

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