Canada Welcomes Decision by Zimbabwe Media Commission

(No. 189 - June 14, 2010 - 2:40 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement welcoming the recent decision by the Zimbabwe Media Commission to grant licences to several independent daily newspapers, allowing them to resume publishing:

“Canada welcomes the Zimbabwe Media Commission’s decision to grant licences to the independent daily newspapers. We note that one of the newspapers, NewsDay, has commenced publishing and is now available from street vendors and newspaper outlets in Zimbabwe.

“This provides a clear demonstration of how strongly the Zimbabwean people value their access to a free press. It is an important step in the promotion of the freedom of expression and communication in Zimbabwe, as called for in Article 19 of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, and signals an advance in Zimbabwe’s democratic transition. Canada urges Zimbabwe’s government to build on this achievement by implementing the remaining outstanding issues of the agreement.

“Canada is engaged with civil society and multilateral partners to promote human rights and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe; for example, the Canadian International Development Agency’s Zimbabwe Civil Society Fund and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Glyn Berry Program both help to strengthen independent media.

“With Canada’s recent participation in the Friends of Zimbabwe meeting in Oslo, Norway, we had the opportunity to evaluate progress and the remaining challenges in Zimbabwe’s democratic transition.

“We will continue to recognize and support positive developments in Zimbabwe but will also do our part in monitoring and speaking out against setbacks in this process. In this regard, we continue to be seriously concerned by reports of harassment of and violence against leaders of Zimbabwean civil society and call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that it protects the civil, political and human rights of all Zimbabweans.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874