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:

 Council of Europe issued an alert on what happened while G7 was taking place in Biarritz, France concerning threats on media freedom. (Council of Europe)Several journalists present in Biarritz and Bayonne to cover the G7 summit on 24 and 25 August 2019 were subjected to abusive police controls and arbitrary confiscation ...
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(Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka) The HFHR has filed an amicus curiae brief before the Regional Court in Kraków in a case concerning the conduct of several participants of a monthly commemoration of the Smolensk catastrophe towards a journalist reporting on the event, Gazeta Wyborcza’s Paweł Figurski. On 10 August 2017, ...
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(CIVICUS MONITOR) #Greece 🇬🇷: @CNN investigative journalist Mina Karamitrou's car was destroyed by a bomb attack in Athens. We and the Journalists' Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers condemn the attack and urge authorities to investigate it #pressfreedom. @EFJEUROPE https://t.co/BjwWnMO8oK — IFJ (@IFJGlobal) May 16, 2019 Expression Attacks on media ...
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(CIVICUS MONITOR) [...] Romanian investigative journalist Emilia Șercan receives death threats https://t.co/fRWgcCaahv — Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) April 18, 2019 Investigative journalist subjected to death threats  On 15th April 2019, an investigative journalist, Emilia Șercan, who reports for the local news website PressOne, received death threats through a text message on WhatsApp urging her to stop her ...
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(Sherpa) Paris, 13 May 2019 –  17 humanitarian and human rights NGOs today denounced threats to press freedom after three French journalists were summoned by the French intelligence services for investigating the presence of French weapons in the conflict in Yemen. Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal of the French investigative media Disclose, ...
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(European Civic Forum for Civicus Monitor) Eestis juba ei sobi avalikult öelda, et rassistid on valitsuses. Välismeediat tsiteerides veel tohib. https://t.co/bWlhXchkmj — Vilja Kiisler (@ViljaKiisler) May 12, 2019 On 3rd March 2019, the Estonian parliamentary elections took place with election turnout just over 63 per cent. The centre-right Reform Party won ...
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On May 23, the anti-fascist protest in Genoa against a rally of Casapound, a far right movement, was heavily suppressed by police forces who beat up and launched tear gas on the protesters. This serious event happening in Genoa, a city which was awarded with golden medal for resisting the ...
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(Ossigeno per l'informazione) On the dramatic theme of the criminal roots of the Mafia, on its influence on society and on the phenomena of corruption, newspapers and journalists in Italy produce less coverage than it would be desirable. This assessment is widely shared. There are numerous reasons: fear, threats, retaliation, connivance, ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) Journalists in the UK are increasingly being targeted by pro-Brexit and far-right activist while covering protests. The trend is on the rise, according to Reporters without Borders UK’s Rebecca Vincent. For example, the Guardian newspaper columnist Owen Jones reported of being mobbed by pro-Brexit supporters ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) On 12th February 2019, two problematic freedom of expression bills – the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill - were enacted, despite strong concerns by civil society, press freedom organisations and opposition parties. These groups argued that these two laws fall ...
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