Commonwealth Day Message by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth

"This Commonwealth Day, a baton will set out from Buckingham Palace and begin a long and extraordinary journey. Over the next twelve months, the Baton will visit people living in the nations and territories of our Commonwealth family in every continent and ocean. Carried on its way by thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds, by the time it reaches its final destination, The Queen’s Baton will have brought together through its route and symbolism, almost 2.5 billion people who share the special connection of being Commonwealth citizens. Contained within the Baton…Read more

Peace-building is the theme for Commonwealth Day 2017

On Monday 13 March, schools and communities in 52 countries will mark Commonwealth Day 2017. This year, the annual celebration of the Commonwealth’s shared values is themed ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’. Highlights include: The Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey at 1445GMT The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay launch at Buckingham Palace at 1130GMT A new Commonwealth Peace in the Home initiative to tackle domestic violence The Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, will lead festivities with a special message issued to the two and a half billion people…Read more

Secretary-General statement on Maldives decision to leave the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “I have received news that the Maldives Government has today decided to leave the Commonwealth. “The Commonwealth family at large – its member governments and its peoples worldwide – will share my sadness and disappointment at this decision. “The Commonwealth Charter reflects the commitment of our member states to democracy and human rights, development and growth, and diversity. We will continue to champion these values and to support all member states, especially small and developing states, in upholding and advancing these practically for the enduring benefit of their…Read more

Bangladesh journalists could face 14 years in prison for refuting rumour

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said that Bangladeshi authorities should drop all criminal proceedings against three journalists from the news website banglamail24, release them immediately, and restore press credentials to nine of their colleagues. The three journalists could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison if charged and convicted under a law governing online publication. Police on Sunday night arrested banglamail24 Executive Editor Maksukul Alam, acting Editor Shahadat Ullah Khan, and reporter Pranta Palash after the website published a report refuting a rumor that the prime minister's son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, had died in a plane…Read more

Indian journalist, magazine face criminal complaint for investigative report

 Indian authorities should shelve a criminal complaint against the weekly Indian magazine Outlook, its leadership, and freelance journalist Neha Dixit, and ensure the safety of the journalist and Outlook's staff, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on August 11th. On August 4, SC Koyal, an assistant solicitor general of the government of India at the Gauhati High Court, and Bijon Mahajan, a spokesman for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), filed a criminal complaint against the English-language magazine Outlook, its publisher, Indranil Roy, its editor, Krishna Prasad, and Dixit. The complaint alleged that a July…Read more

New Maldives criminal defamation law threatens press freedom

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom should veto a criminal defamation law the parliament passed yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The legislation threatens to stifle criticism and investigative reporting. According to press reports, the government had promised to put a draft of the law before a multiparty committee for amendments before putting it to a vote. But lawmakers yesterday approved the legislation in a 47-31 vote and referred it to Yameen for ratification. Under the law, individuals convicted of defamation face a fine of up to 2 million rufiya (US$130,000), and…Read more

At least two journalists killed in Pakistan blast

At least two journalists were among at least 70 people killed in a massive bomb blast at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, on August 8th, according to press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the attack. Mehmood Khan, a cameraman for DawnNews, and Aaj TV cameraman Shehzad Ahmed were at Quetta Civil Hospital reporting on a gathering of mourners grieving the murder of Bilal Kasi, president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, the reports said. Ahmed died at the scene of the blast, according to the Pakistani advocacy group Freedom Network, which promotes freedom of expression.…Read more

St. Vincent and the Grenadines draft law would allow prison for defamation online

Lawmakers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should amend or scrap a draft cybercrime law that would allow for prison sentences of up to two years for defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Legislators are expected to consider the draft on Thursday, an opposition politician told CPJ. The most recent draft of the law provides for prison sentences of up to two years for "a person who uses a computer system to unlawfully publish any defamatory matter concerning another person, whether negligently or with intent to defame that other person," Anesia…Read more

Proposed law on contempt of court threatens press freedom in Singapore

  Singaporean lawmakers should scrap proposed legislation on what constitutes contempt of court in news reporting and public commentary, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The draft law's penalties for violations, including possible prison terms for criticizing the judiciary, threaten to entrench more self-censorship in Singapore's constrained media environment. The Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill would consolidate existing laws and judicial precedent into a statute on what may be published about court proceedings, judges, and the justice system, and, according to news reports, would allow the attorney general, rather than judges, to accuse writers of contempt,…Read more

The Queen inspires new hub for Commonwealth organisations

The atmosphere was full of comradery and optimism today as The Queen shook hands with athletes, young people, High Commissioners and staff at the launch of a new Commonwealth Hub. The ceremony took place at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London. The Commonwealth Hub will be located directly across from Marlborough House in a building to be renamed Commonwealth House. It will become the home of a network of Commonwealth accredited organisations. Today, the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum agreed to move their main offices…Read more