CHRI's Media and Freedom of Expression programme works towards protecting, promoting and preserving critical voices in the Commonwealth, both online and offline. It documents, researchers and advocates for media freedom, rights of journalists and free expression as well as undertakes campaigns and builds networks of support for media professionals.
CHRI is one of the six Commonwealth organisations in the Working Group on Media and Good Governance, including the Commonwealth Journalists Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, that drafted and then adopted the Commonwealth Media Principles. CHRI engages with the Group to create ‘a charter of media principles’ and with the Expert Working Group established by senior officials of Law Ministries of member states.
The programme, launched in 2020, has two objectives: 1. Enable good governance, increase public accountability by increasing access to credible information, as well as build informed participation of people and create a space for criticism and dissent; 2. Help develop a safe and enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders.
The Media and Freedom of Expression programme also builds networks of support for media persons in South Asia such as SAMDEN, the South Asia Media Defenders Network, which has over 60 members from the region. The North East Media Collective, founded in 2021, is a pan-Indian group of journalists that is also anchored in this programme. It works to strengthen local media capacity in the North-east region.