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Commonwealth: Press Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL11434, tabled on 13 November 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the objectives of the Commonwealth principles of freedom of expression and the role of the media in good governance developed by the Commonwealth Working Group on Media and Good Governance; what steps they will take to promote the principles within the Commonwealth; and whether they will advocate for their consideration at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in 2020.

Answered on

27 November 2018

The Government is committed to tackling intimidation and violence against journalists wherever it occurs, including in Commonwealth countries, and to challenging impunity for such crimes. The Foreign Secretary highlighted our determination to address this issue on the International Day to End Impunity for Attacks Against Journalists on 2 November, announcing our intention to put the resources of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) behind the cause of media freedom and to hold an international conference on this issue, in 2019. We welcome the attention UNESCO has given to this problem.

We support the work of the Commonwealth Working Group on Media and Good Governance on Commonwealth principles of freedom of expression and the role of the media in good governance, and their continued efforts to prepare them for consideration at the Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda in 2020. Officials from the FCO and Cabinet Office have offered advice and support to members of the Working Group, most recently on 12 November 2018. The Working Group was given the opportunity to brief all member states on the proposed principles at senior official level, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April 2018. However, there was no consensus amongst member states for the principles to be formally included on Heads' agenda or in their official communiqué. We have discussed the principles with the Commonwealth Secretariat on several occasions since the Heads of Government Meeting. We continue to encourage the Working Group to work with member states and the Secretariat to build consensus towards adoption of the principles.