The press in Cyprus is a free and independent institution and is not subject to intervention or control by any state authority.
The 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.
Non-statutory guidelines have been laid down and journalists are expected to exercise self-regulation in the absence of a functioning Press Council to deal with complaints or non-compliance with journalistic standards.
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 for doing so.
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:
(a) the information is clearly related to the criminal offence
(b) the information cannot be obtained otherwise
(c) 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 as 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.
Free distribution of newspapers
The distribution agencies, kiosks and other distribution locations must ensure that newspapers are available to the public freely, without restrictions or discriminations, regardless of the newspapers’ political inclinations or views.
According to the Press Law, the term ‘newspaper’ also encompasses magazines and any other publication issued regularly, at least once every four months.