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:

(The Shift Team) Joseph Muscat’s claim to represent a positive politics that does away with tribalism is a cover for a relentlessly violent and abusive campaign, as revealed in a Shift News investigation. Joseph Muscat repeatedly claims to stand for a positive politics: ‘We will always stand for #optimism with a ...
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(Jemimah Steinfeld on New Statesman) Italy’s new populist government is threatening to take away police protection from investigative journalists. He had spoken about it before becoming Italy’s interior minister. Now, not even a month into the role, Matteo Salvini has threatened to remove the police protection for one of the country’s ...
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(The Brussels Times) Two reporters and three technical staff of the French-speaking public broadcaster RTBF were arrested yesterday while reporting on a demonstration against a new centre for refugees in Steenokkerzeel outside Brussels. The demonstrators oppose the creation of a new closed detention centre for asylum-seekers close to the existing – ...
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(Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria) At the end of each year, the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) asks journalists and media experts to share their thoughts about the past twelve months. Below we provide four opinions about 2017, which highlight topics such as political pressure on the media, ...
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(Index on censorship) 22 May 2018 - A photographer and a videographer were detained for 48 hours and charged with unauthorised entry after covering the occupation of a school in Paris by protesters against a recent education reform, alternative website Taranis reported. A member of photographers' collective La Meute told ...
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(CIVICUS Monitor) In April 2018, parents of children with disabilities in Poland held protests demanding an increase in disability benefits provided by the state. The protestors occupied the Polish Sejm (parliament) but authorities allegedly hid them behind a thick, grey curtain in order to reduce the visibility of their protest. During the ...
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The Slovenian Association of Journalists reports: "Following media reports claiming that pro-Orban media companies have provided financial support to SDS (Slovenska demokratska stranka)-linked outlets and their election campaign, two journalists have received e-mails from one of the SDS-linked media outlets, Škandal24, asking questions regarding journalists' personal life aiming to discredit ...
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(The Irish Times) A woman with a serious disability who requires the support of a personal assistant has been told she cannot take part in any political activity if her PA is with her. Christine Fenton, who has been living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) for almost 30 years, told a seminar ...
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(thejournal.ie) DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has said it will not reinstate an event involving writers who have contributed to a book about the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. The event, a panel discussion, was to feature prominent artists and advocates who contributed to a recent anthology entitled Repeal the 8th ...
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(Irish Council for Civil Liberties) The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is today sounding an alarm about the chilling effect it is observing in the wake of the censorship of Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural and Una Mullally’s Question of the Eighth literary event. We have learned that over the past few weeks ...
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