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Comment on WAN-IFRA REPORT from the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust

The CPU Media Trust welcomes the publication [today, Monday 17th March] of a report from WAN-IFRA on the threat to press freedom in the United Kingdom from the Royal Charter on press regulation and the implications of that for Commonwealth countries. 

The Commonwealth Press Union has for more than one hundred years promoted the cause of a free press as an essential part of any democratic society.  The Royal Charter – which because of the legislation which underpins it is in effect an attempt at statutory control of the press – has enormous implications for press freedom in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth, because of the role of HM The Queen as head of state in sixteen countries of the Commonwealth.  

As a recent report from the Co-Ordinating Committee of world press freedom organisations made clear, in many developing countries Governments will use the existence of the Charter to crack down on a free press in a way which undermines democracy. There is no doubt in our view that the Royal Charter has set back the fight for democracy in some Commonwealth countries and elsewhere. Already we have seen it from the Government of Ecuador. 

As the newspaper and magazine industry sets up its own new powerful regulatory body recommended by the Leveson report, the CPU welcomes the scrutiny of the Royal Charter by WAN-IFRA, the international group that represents freedom of expression worldwide. It draws the attention of Parliaments in the UK and elsewhere to WAN IFRA’s decision to send a delegation to Britain to investigate attempts to impose control over the Press. The attention of such delegations has usually been reserved for countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Myanmar. 

The CPU urges anyone with a belief in media freedom wherever they might live to make politicians and the public aware of the huge damage which the Royal Charter, and the legislation which underpins it, poses to the fundamental human right to free expression throughout the Commonwealth.

WAN-IFRA UK Press Freedom Report

For the first time ever earlier this year, WAN/IFRA sent a sizeable delegation drawn from the world's press, to the UK to examine the situation regarding press freedom following the publication of the Leveson Report last year and on the subsequent  Government-backed Royal Charter.  The report can be read or downloaded here>>

Leveson Report

Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian, has said  that Leveson sees journalism "as an exercise in providing cases for the courts to examine" in this piece on the Press Gazette website.  Read here >>

After months of hearings and evidence, Lord Justice Leveson published the findings of his inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the UK press. The report, which is nearly 2000 pages long can be accessed here >>.

The Secretary to the Editors' Code Committee considers the implications for the Commonwealth of the Leveson Report. Read here >>

The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka reacts to the news of attempts to shackle the UK press.  Read here>>



New Online Training Opportunities for Commonweath Journalists.
With over 60 years of experience in training journalists, the CPU Media Trust today launches its new training portal, offering online courses for all levels of journalists in the Commonwealth.
CPU News Training





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