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 in French on LDH website, 27 April 2020 - accessible here Communiqué LDH The public prosecutor of Toulouse asked the police to enter the homes of people who had placed banners on their balconies saying "Macronavirus, when will it end?". Police officers therefore went to the homes ...
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Extract from article published in Italian on Vita, 1 April 2020 - accessible here The FOIA, the comprehensive civic access that allows everyone to know the acts of the Public Administration, is a fundamental tool of control and supervision. Especially in times of extraordinary money allocations and emergency management. And ...
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Article originally published in French on Politis.fr, 1 April 2020 - accessible here Malik Salemkour, president of Ligue des droits de l’Homme, is concerned about the attacks on civil liberties caused by the state of health emergency. In particular, he warns that there has been a general decline in checks ...
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Article originally published on Democracy International - accessible here The world is in the grips of an all-encompassing health-crisis that has drastically affected the lives of millions of people around the world. All over the world, governments are taking action to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While many ...
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Article originally published on Amnesty International website, 1 April 2020 - accessible here Amnesty International has published recommendations today for states in Europe urging them to ensure that their responses to COVID-19 are in line with their international and regional human rights obligations. Europe at a Crossroads sets out clear guidance on governments should and should not do in ...
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Press release by RSF, published on 31 March 2020 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching Tracker-19 to monitor and evaluate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on journalism and to offer recommendations on how to defend the right to information. View the tracker here Tracker 19 The press freedom NGO ...
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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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