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Commonwealth Journalists' Association

The Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust (CPU MT), a sister organisation to the CJA dealing with media issues, has published a new report.

‘The Test of Democracy: Key Laws Which Constrain the Commonwealth Media’ examines legal concerns in ten Commonwealth countries, including the UK.

The report, which can be downloaded as a pdf by visiting the website, makes ten major recommendations for consideration by governments.

According to the CPU MT’s press release:

In the on-going struggle for media freedom perhaps the most overlooked but invidious aspects are the harsh and often anachronistic laws that constrain the media, not only in emerging nations but also in long-established democracies. Frequently a legacy from the colonial era when they were devised to silence a subject people, these laws are now increasingly being used by elected governments in an attempt to muzzle a critical and outspoken independent media.

There is no doubt that many of the laws highlighted in this report are out-dated and inappropriate in today’s globalised media world and it is imperative that Governments recognise this and are persuaded to abolish those which force the media to operate in an atmosphere of fear.

Speaking at the launch, Lord Black, Chairman of CPU Media Trust said: “I would draw particular attention to the series of 10 recommendations we make at the beginning of the report which we hope can provide a framework for future work. We hope that this report will act as a discussion document, which can be taken forward to Law Ministers in Commonwealth countries in an attempt to have the often anachronistic and draconian laws repealed or amended to remove the chilling atmosphere they create.”

In most emerging democracies, freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution but frequently ignored by Governments when they come under the critical eye of the media.  As a free media is a universally accepted cornerstone of democracy then laws which inappropriately curtail it, must be abolished.

The Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust (CPU MT) was established in 2009 to continue the work of the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU), which closed down the previous year.  Taking the CPU’s core work – particularly in the field of media freedom – forward in to the future is an important component of the work of the Trust today.

For further information or comment please contact Lindsay Ross at