Expression in Cyprus
Although Cyprus’ ranking has fallen in the latest World Press Freedom Index, it remains a positive environment for a free media and for the open exchange of information and opinions. The media generally comes under less state pressure in the Greek Cypriot Community than in the Turkish Cypriot Community. Movement of journalists has, on occasion, been impeded due to the long-standing political division in Cyprus. Article 19 of the constitution protects free expression and criminal defamation laws have been abolished in Cyprus for over a decade, although criminal offences for publishing false news and defaming foreign states remain. A 1989 Press Law provides strong protections for the circulation of newspapers and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. Although Cyprus is planning to introduce a freedom of information law, the draft bill has been severely criticised for placing too many exceptions on information that can be accessed, exempting some public bodies from the law and vaguely defining criteria for refusing requests. Consequently, journalists and civil society groups fear that their role as watchdogs of government accountability will be weakened. Over two thirds of people in Cyprus had Internet access by the end of 2014 and there is no reported interference with online access or content.