CJA warns against misuse of spl power to muzzle media coverage of pandemic

21 April 2020 bdnews24.com

The Commonwealth Journalists Association has warned its member states against misuse of extraordinary powers to silence independent media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The states have assumed the powers while responding to the pandemic, but CJA is "deeply concerned" that the powers "may have the effect of criminalising the work of journalists".
These may also "arbitrarily restrict" the ability of the news media to scrutinise the actions of governments and report in the public
interest, the association said in a statement on Monday.
"The CJA regrets that in some member states, governments have been using emergency and special powers to influence media reporting on the crisis, to restrict media access to sources of information, and to harass or arrest journalists who publish news critical of government," it said.
The CJA also said that efforts to tackle the pandemic "must not be allowed to undermine the democratic values".
It called on the governments to support the critical role of independent media in reporting on all aspects of the unfolding pandemic.
"The CJA recognises that in order to respond to the public health emergency  it may be necessary for governments to introduce emergency measures which restrict certain freedoms, but it reminds  governments that those powers should be exercised proportionately, transparently, and only for the temporary purpose of dealing with the emergency," the statement read.

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