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 Guardian) Willy Toledo to face Madrid court after not showing up for questioning over Facebook post A Spanish actor accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary has been detained for questioning by a judge, police have said, in the latest high-profile case to raise freedom of speech fears in the country ...
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(Translated from Osservatorio Repressione) The police intervened with charges to remove a banner against the Lega-M5S and Pd government during the city festival "Effetto Venezia", in Livorno, Italy. On the banner was written: "Pd and Lega-5Stelle effect, 11 attacks in 50 days: your racism is emergency. The real change: housing, work ...
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(Council of Europe) Italian journalist, writer and anti-fascist activist Enrico Nascimbeni was attacked by two men armed with a knife on 1st August 2018, in front of his apartment’s door in Milan. The attackers clearly intended to hurt him in the face. The journalist, however, was hit in the arm, while trying ...
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(Translated with DeepL from RTL info) It was denounced as a threat to the freedom of expression: the law on business secrecy, which transposes into French law a European directive on the protection of know-how and commercial information, was validated on Thursday by the Constitutional Council. The members of the Constitutional ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) Slovenia had seen significant improvements in recent months concerning civic space, largely as a result of the new NGO law passed by parliament on 23rd March 2018. Nevertheless, implementation of the law and other initiatives depends on political will from the new government to be formed following ...
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The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Nuala Ní Aoláin, raised concern over the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security law discussed by parliament. She said: "a series of provisions included in the draft bill fall short of the United Kingdom's obligations under international ...
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(Index on censorship) “What happened is that I stumbled across something which made the police look bad.” Video footage shot by Thomas Kraus shows police violently detaining journalist Marvin Oppong. When journalist Marvin Oppong began photographing the scene of an accident involving a police car and a taxi, he was just doing his ...
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(Network for Police monitoring) A report on tackling ‘hateful extremism’ commissioned in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack has been caught up in a barrage of criticism entirely of its authors’ own making, after smearing anti-fracking campaigners and then admitting it made a “dreadful error”. The report, A Shared Future [, 1.2Mb] ...
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(The European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) Expression During an interview on the public broadcaster ORF in early July, the Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl (from the far-right FPO party) made allegations that certain “self-declared investigative journalists” might become subject of criminal investigations in connection to the scandal surrounding the ...
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(Mapping media freedom) 18 July 2018 - Public Sénat channel revealed that Alexandre Benalla, who worked in the Macron security team during the presidential campaign, targeted a journalist and violently pushed him during a public event 1 March 2017. This followed Le Monde revelations according to which Benalla -- wearing ...
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