Sri Lanka war, Taliban in Pakistan worry scribes’ association


Toronto : The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has expressed concern at the plight of journalists in Pakistan – especially in the wake of the Taliban resurgence in the country’s northern region – and the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka.

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It has renewed its resolve to fight for the journalists globally on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day May 3.

“Northern Pakistan, Fiji, Sri Lanka, the Gambia, and the Maldives come to mind in recent days,” CJA Executive Director Bryan Cantley said in a statement. “There are others with less-than-perfect performances, and judicial practices which need reform, particularly old criminal libel and sedition laws.”

“Those who live in Commonwealth countries such as Britain, India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have press freedom and freedom of speech are enshrined in their constitutions.

“But in far too many Commonwealth countries, despotic governments, thugs, tribal factions and others seek to suppress and muzzle the press.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our many Commonwealth friends and colleagues who face censorship, intimidation, physical harm and, worse, death in the pursuit of their craft,” Cantley said.

He pointed to the role the Internet has come to play, making it possible to easily learn about assaults on press freedom and the press throughout the world.

“There are no places to hide for a Robert Mugabe-style leadership in the face of worldwide scorn. We would like to think proposed changes in Zimbabwe to allow more press freedom are the result of worldwide pressures,” Cantley said in a statement.