A Gettysburg moment for CHOGM

Four score and seven years ago, the 1931 Statute of Westminster formally loosed Britain's Dominions from the bonds of Empire as sovereign states. It was, if not the birth of the Commonwealth, a new birth of freedom: enshrining democracy, essential rights and the rule of law. Today, the Commonwealth Charter offers 2.4 billion people – a third of humanity – a panoramic vision of liberty. Freedom of expression is at its core. Rightly, it is defined to include 'a free and responsible media.' Shamefully, by that test, this shining vision is a cruel…Read more

Commonwealth Day Message by Her Majesty The Queen

Towards a Common Future Commonwealth Day, 12 March 2018 We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others. Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future. There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division. We shall see this in action at the Commonwealth…Read more

The Gambia rejoins Commonwealth

The Gambia rejoins the Commonwealth family today, almost five years after leaving it. A flag-raising ceremony, at Marlborough House, the London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, will mark its return. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, the chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, Norman Hamilton, members of the Committee, and The Gambian high commissioner, Francis Blain, will attend the ceremony. The decision to begin the process of applying for readmission was made in February 2017 by President Adama Barrow, who came to power following elections in December 2016. Last December, the…Read more

Theme for CHOGM 2018: ‘Towards a Common Future’.

Young people will be at the heart of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London next April. That’s according to the UK prime minister, Theresa May, as she launched the theme for CHOGM 2018, ‘Towards a Common Future’. She set out four main goals for the biennial meeting: prosperity by boosting intra-Commonwealth trade; security by greater cooperation to tackle global terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime; fairness through promoting greater diversity and good governance; and sustainability by building resilience among small, developing and vulnerable states to deal with climate change. “For the…Read more

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