‘In defence of free media: What can the Commonwealth do?

‘In defence of free media: What can the Commonwealth do?
11 April 2018, 6.00pm - 8.00pm
The Senate Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


In April 2017 in her keynote lecture at Senate House (during an ICwS conference on The Commonwealth and Challenges to Media Freedom ), the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, described the killings of scores of journalists across the world each year as ‘a serious indictment of our collective efforts to build a safer and more inclusive future’. Recent killings of journalists in Commonwealth countries -- including those of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Gauri Lankesh in India – and countless cases of kidnappings, violent assaults, criminal prosecutions and jailings, make it essential for the Commonwealth to re-focus its priorities and live up to its commitment to protect press freedom and the safety of journalists, uphold the rule of law, and fight corruption in public life. 

Last year, in response to the growing challenges to media freedom and other threats to fair elections and open public debate, the Commonwealth Journalists Association and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies set up a Working Group with senior figures from the Commonwealth’s legal and parliamentary community and other concerned organisations. Together they have drawn up a multi-stakeholder template as a tool to help the Commonwealth family to improve its record for media freedom and accountable government. That goal is in line with the Commonwealth’s strong commitment to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.    

At this special event, which comes a week before the opening of the Commonwealth Summit, members of the Working Group will present its proposals based on a 12-point document entitled “Commonwealth Principles on the role of the Media in Good Governance”. These address core issues and problems raised during the Institute’s April 2017 Conference on the Commonwealth and Media Freedom – including relations between the media and the three branches of government, the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary, effective physical and legal protections for independent journalism, safeguards for election reporting, an end to impunity in cases when journalists are attacked or killed, and better media self-regulation. Lord Black of Brentwood (Chair of Trustees, Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust, and Executive Director of the Telegraph Group) will make the opening remarks, followed by Rita Payne (Emeritus President, Commonwealth Journalists Association) and Peter Slinn, Vice-President of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association.   

This will be followed by a panel discussion of leading Commonwealth figures on issues around implementing these important principles.  

Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative 

Akbar Khan, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association 

HE Euripides L Evriviades, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus 

Kayode Soyinka, Editor-in-Chief, Africa Today Magazine 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Doughty Street Chambers  

 In Defence.pdf


Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871