Media Freedom in the CommonwealthPosted by AlexT - 30/07/09 at 02:07 pm
The writer and journalist Kaye Whiteman has asked some provocative questions of the Commonwealth Conversation and how it will address the issue of media freedom. He is a former Director of Information at the Commonwealth Secretariat, so knows a thing or two about the issue:
It is with a certain heavy pen, not to say a heavy heart, that I find myself sitting down to write about one of the old chestnuts of international affairs. Yes, it is time to ask once more, how relevant, in this our 21st century, is the Commonwealth…
It will be interesting to see if the Conversation will address one issue that has been of concern to some of us for a long time, the problem of media freedom in Commonwealth countries.
Although since the 1990s, the Commonwealth has tried to be on the cutting edge of human rights/democracy issues through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the Fourth Estate has hardly come under scrutiny. The Coolum Declaration of 2002 included, for the first time in any Commonwealth declaration, freedom of expression as a human right, but there are rarely any official allusions to the problems that journalists in particular experience in a number of Commonwealth countries (for example, Sri Lanka and the Gambia).
We certainly will be inviting discussions about media freedom, starting now.
Does much more need to be done to press for true media freedom across the Commonwealth? Or is the status-quo adequate? Does the Commonwealth have any right to interfere in how individual members deal with their press? And what is your country like on the issue of press freedom?