Freedom Of Expression

Freedom of expression is at the core of an open and plural civic space. Indeed, it includes the citizens’ right to access multiple and reliable information on issues of public concerns, freely and critically formulate opinions, and openly and publicly express it. Freedom of expression is ensured when media ownership is various and vast, journalists can collect and spread information of public interest without fear of retorsion, and citizens are able to choose most appropriate means to voice their opinions. Privacy and free internet are also crucial components of freedom of expression.

According to the LogoLink Global Charter on the Right to Participation (2013, p. 5)

“Citizens can exercise their right to participate only when they also have the right and access to information. Quality of participation is directly proportionate to access to quality information.”

In Europe, freedom of information is protected not only by national legislation but also by supranational laws. Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that”

“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. 2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.”

While freedom of expression is considered a fundamental right, there are high-risk factors that are emerging across Europe.

A main obstacle to freedom of expression is the high concentration of media ownership in the hands of few political and economic elites. Not only this can lead to an influence of editorial content by political and financial interests, often the media ownership is complicated and unclear resulting in lack of transparency. The scarcity of independent journalism can negatively affect the plurality of viewpoints shared in the public sphere which is key to plural civic space. Moreover, smaller communities often lack local new outlets discussing and raising local needs and concerns.

Freedom of expressions in Europe is also hindered by attacks and restrictions on investigative journalism. These include police interference, obstruction to interviewing public officers and police, and criminal prosecution of leaks by governing authorities and enterprises.  

Recent electoral campaigns have also lead to political discredit and attacks against media and journalists contributing to legitimising isolation, harassment or even assaults against journalists and whistleblowers.

Finally, mass surveillance, espionage and anti-terror legislation also contribute to obstructing freedom of expression in Europe.

Read Latest Alerts:

(Translated in English with www.Deepl.org from VERTELE!) The Women's Collective of RTVE begins a network campaign to denounce the manipulation of information in the corporation and ask for its immediate renewal. Dozens of testimonies give accounts of concrete cases that show how public means are used for partisan purposes. Press ...
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(Media.cat) Catalonia and the Spanish State have experienced exceptional events in the weeks prior to and after 1 October 2017 (1-O), the day in which the Catalan government invited the Catalan electorate to participate in a referendum on self-determination which had been suspended by the Constitutional Court at the behest ...
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On 15 May, the Bavarian parliament passed a controversial Police Task Bill (PAG) granting police new powers to act without “concrete suspicion”. The law will lower the threshold for surveillance from “concrete suspicion” to “looming danger” and allow for “preventative detention” up to three months in case of fear of ...
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(European Federation of Journalists) Investigative journalist Pavla Holcova, former colleague of Jan Kuciak and founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Reporting, was interrogated by the Slovak National Crime Agency during eight hours on Tuesday 15 May, after which her phone was seized. Ms Holcova had been working with Jan Kuciak on behalf of the ...
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(Liberties) A law passed last month by Austria's right-wing government could undermine the enforcement of new EU data protection rules set to enter into force at the end of May. The new Austrian law demands the country's data protection chief to first issue warnings before sanctioning violating firms. German news site ...
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(Independent) An investigative journalist has been shot in Montenegro leading to hundreds of people taking to the streets in protest. Olivera Lakic, who works for the independent Vijesti daily as a crime and corruption reporter, was shot in the leg outside her home in Podgorica, the capital. Protesters demanded that the authorities find ...
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(Prague Daily Monitor) Prague, April 27 (CTK) - The Czech government has proposed a significant restriction on the free access to information under the pretext of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) new EU rules, warns an analysis of the Reconstruction of State NGO, released to CTK. The ANO minority cabinet ...
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(CIVICUS Monitor) News publisher Independent News and Media (INM) is under two investigations by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for its alleged involvement in a breach of confidential data from journalists’ emails. This data may have been shared with third parties, including foreign companies who ...
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(CIVICUS Monitor) Major police operation targets anti-capitalist community Throughout April police attempted to forcibly evict hundreds of activists occupying land in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, firing tear gas as some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and burned barricades. The site of the protest has been controversial for fifty years, due to the government’s plan to build ...
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(Platforma 112) Platform 112 strongly condemns the recent pressures the Ministry of Interior has been putting on lawyers and civil society organizations in Croatia. Platform 112 also urges Prime Minister Plenković and Interior Minister Davor Božinović to restrain the police and stop violating the rule of law in the Republic ...
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