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:

Article originally published on CJI, 24 March 2020 - accessible here The first case of COVID-19 was registered in Romania on 26 February, 2020. Three weeks later, the country was passing emergency decrees limiting freedom of expression and access to information, temporarily withdrawing from the Convention of the Universal Declaration ...
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Article originally published on SNH.HR, 18 March 2020 -  accessible here Trade Union of Croatian Journalists and Croatian Journalist’s Association regret that the measures proposed by the Government to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic crisis do not include – the media! We would like to reminded that since ...
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Article originally published on International Press Institute, 26 March 2020 - accessible here Statement by International Press Institute Journalists in Slovenia have been subjected to an unprecedented wave of insults and online smear campaigns for months now, and the COVID-19 outbreak has just opened a new flank. Amid the coronavirus ...
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Article originally published on Freemuse website, 10 January 2020 - accessible here The Security, Creativity, Tolerance and their Co-existence: The New European Agenda on Freedom of Artistic Expression outlines how European governments carry the legal responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil obligations to artistic freedom. The report further draws attention to the ...
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Article originally published on Brexit, Europe and the Left, 13 December 2019 - accessible here Author: Mark Malone Read Part 1 here Just like the US and Europe, the rise of far right politics in Ireland has its origins not in ballot boxes, but rather online through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube ...
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Online harassment and attacks on journalists – including threats, insults and smear campaigns – are increasingly deployed as a means to silence journalists and challenge their credibility in the public arena. While addressing online harassment and its negative impact on the free flow of information requires a multi-actor approach, newsrooms ...
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Article originally published on Brexit, Europe and the Left, 12 December 2019 - accessible here Author: Mark Malone Events since the Brexit vote in the UK have demarcated a significant up-tick in far right organising in the south of Ireland. These efforts have singularity failed to achieve any meaningful political ...
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Statement originally published on FPA website, 1 March 2020 - accessible here We note with great concern that certain groups on the island of Lesvos move in an organized manner to intimidate and attack journalists covering the flow of refugees and migrants arriving from Turkey. At least two colleagues have ...
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Anyone in state-owned media who wants to cover issues related to the climate activist Greta Thunberg needs permission from higher authorities. A list of sensitive topics already existed for which approval was needed in order to cover the issue. "In the case of Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, journalists were ...
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Article originally published on Media.cat - 10 February 2020 - accessible here (translated from Catalan) Six cases were reported in the Censorship Map, 5 of which are reported below. -- A photographer, identified and threatened by Mossos d'Esquadra  BARCELONA, 28-1-2020. The photojournalist Àngel García is separated by riot agents from ...
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