The Commonwealth and Media Freedom The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

The Round Table

The absence of the official Commonwealth from the public debates on issues around media freedom—not least the disquieting rising number of attacks on journalists in countries across the association—needs to be addressed. Other multilateral organisations and agencies have taken a firm and highly visible lead, coordinating a wide range of activities and institutional frameworks to underpin the safety of journalists, government frameworks of accountability, and issues around access to information. In contrast to the quiescent Commonwealth, the Francophonie’s work on education, structures and adjudication in this area is particularly striking. Yet Commonwealth civil society organisations have done considerable work in the past on this issue, so the official Commonwealth does not have to reinvent the wheel. The Commonwealth Expert Group publication, Freedom of Expression, Association and Assembly, published in 2003, set out core frameworks and areas of activity, yet this report has dropped below the horizon. Freedom of expression is one of the declared Commonwealth core values of the Latimer House Principles of 2004. One of the oldest Commonwealth civil society organisations, the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust (CPUMT)’s work has been consistently directed to the established principles and declarations enshrining freedom of expression. The CPUMT published two seminal reports on self-regulation (Imperfect Freedom) in 2002, and The Test of Democracy on media law in 2012. Furthermore, the CW associations such as the Commonwealth Journalists Association, Public Media Alliance and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) have campaigned vigorously to strengthen media freedom in member states, and continue to do so.

Issue 107 Volume 02