Press in Cyprus is a free and independent institution and is not subject to intervention or control by any state authority.
Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Cyprus Republic’s constitution which stipulates: “Every person has the right to freedom of speech and expression in any form. This right includes freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information and ideas without interference by any public authority and regardless of frontiers”.
The proliferation of newspapers in Cyprus – both Cypriot and foreign – reflecting a wide range of opinions and ideologies, attests to the plurality of views prevailing in the country and the freedom they enjoy. Criticism of persons in office, public figures, state institutions and government policies, and the freedom to expose malpractices where these occur, are accepted as a healthy manifestation of democracy.
The 1989 Press Law safeguards the freedom of the press, the unhindered circulation of newspapers, the right of journalists not to disclose the sources of their information and access to official information.
Free access to information
Under the Press Law, all journalists, Cypriot or foreign, have the right to free access to state sources of information, freedom to seek and acquire information from any competent authority of the Republic and the freedom to make this public. The authority concerned must give the requested information unless it pertains to state or public security, constitutional or public order, public morals or the protection of the honour and rights of third parties.
All journalists, Cypriot or foreign, have the right not to reveal their source of information and to refuse to give testimony without being liable to prosecution.
The only exception is in instances where a journalist publishes information regarding a criminal offence. He may then be obliged by the Court examining the case or the coroner to reveal his source, provided that the Court or the coroner is satisfied that the following preconditions concur:
- the information is clearly related to the criminal offence,
- the information cannot be obtained otherwise,
- reasons of superior and imperative public interest require that the information be revealed.
The right to reply
Persons, organizations or public institutions that are named or indirectly referred to in a report or article have the right to reply if they consider the information concerning themselves is untrue or misleading. Their reply must be published, free of charge, within three days of its receipt, giving it the same prominence as the initial report.
Requirements for the publication of a newspaper
Information in relation to publishing a local or a foreign newspaper and the relevant application forms can be found on the Press and Information website www.pio.gov.cy (Service Desk / Registration of newspapers).
The Cyprus Media Complaints Commission
The Cyprus Media Complaints Commission is an independent press council, responsible for the self-regulation of news media, both written and electronic. It is entirely free from government interference or judicial supervision, ensuring that through self-regulation freedom of the press is maintained, standards of conduct are raised and the members of the public are given the opportunity to lodge their grievances against the media when they feel they have been offended. The Cyprus Media Complaints Commission (CMCC) was established in May, 1997 by the Association of Newspapers and Periodicals Publishers, the owners of private Electronic Media and the Cyprus Union of Journalists. The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, a self-governing organization operating under public law, acceded to the regulations governing the operation of the CMCC and the Code of Media Ethics six months later.
Its motto is: For the truth, correct informing and the rights of the citizen and the journalist.
The Code of Practice defines the duties and rights of journalists and covers the following topics: Accuracy of information, the right of rebuttal, the right to privacy, conduct in hospitals, human pain and grief, obtaining information by dubious means, copyright, bribe, presumption of innocence of suspects and accused people, sexual offences, protection of children, discrimination, reporting of financial news, professional privilege and public interest.
The CMCC is an independent organization and it is financed solely by its establishers.
The panel of the CMCC consists of 13 members. The founding parties appoint the chairman, who must be an independent personality (the current one being a former judge) and the nine of the members, coming from the Association of Newspapers and Periodicals Publishers, the owners of private Electronic Media, the Cyprus Union of Journalists and the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation. These 10 members choose from among the general public the other three members, who must be known for their integrity and their interest in community affairs. The panel accepts complaints (submitted within 30 days of the offending publication first appearing or becoming known to the offended party or even a third party). In exceptional cases the panel has the right to examine publications on its own initiative.
Members of the public who feel they have been offended can lodge a complaint electronically, using either e-mail or the website of the CMCC (www.cmcc.org.cy).