COMMONWEALTH secretary general Patricia Scotland says journalists hold a special place in the 54-grouping of nations.
On Wednesday, the Commonwealth held an event in Geneva on the safety of journalists and media freedom.
She said a vibrant media was essential to advancing Commonwealth goals.
“Journalists hold a special place in the Commonwealth family as the eyes, ears and voices of our citizens. Freedom to share information, express ourselves and do so without reprisals, threats and harm is the bedrock of human civilisation and democratic governance,” Scotland said.
Meanwhile, Scotland has observed that out of the 54 Commonwealth countries, 32 are facing a climate change emergency that is costing lives and presenting an undeniable human rights challenge to the world.
Addressing the high-level segment of the UN Human Rights Council’s 43rd Regular Session in Geneva, Scotland advocated change in policies.
“The stark reality for many states is that their people are losing lives, facing malnutrition, unable to find clean water and their homes are disappearing right before our eyes. From the devastation of hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas last year to the wrath of bushfires in Australia, from severe drought in Namibia to islands inundated with king tides in Kiribati, climate change is a threat to the world and an emergency for small states. This year’s Commonwealth theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future’. This future cannot be ‘common’ without being inherently inclusive. Simply put, we have to respect the dignity and equality of all citizens in the Commonwealth family,” said Scotland.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to support member states improve access to justice through strengthening national human rights institutions, ensuring independent judiciaries, improving capacity of officials to apply human rights standards, and reducing financial and bureaucratic barriers for people to access police, administrative offices and courts.”