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:

Collective statement originally published in French on Libération, 1 July 2020 - accessible here SIGN THE PETITION to give your support! (at the bottom of the page) Initiative by LDH and signed by several personalities and organisations, against police violence and racism.  The whole world is marching, with or without ...
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Extract from article originally published on Reuters, 18 June 2020 - accessible here Hundreds protested outside the Romanian president’s palace on Thursday against a proposed ban on gender identity studies which they said would infringe human rights and fuel discrimination. The Romanian parliament approved the ban without public debate this ...
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Article originally published on CoE website, 6 July 2020 - accessible here The Expert Council on NGO Law publishes its opinion on the recently adopted and planned measures that affect NGOs working in Greece on asylum, migration, and social inclusion. The Expert Council found the measures to be an excessive ...
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Article by Accept On June 16th, 2020, the Romanian Parliament adopted Law 87/ 17.02.2020: Proposal to modify and complete the Law Regarding National Education nr.1/ 2011. The law will now go to the President of Romania for promulgation. The President has a time-limit of 20 days to decide whether to ...
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Extract from article originally published on The Guardian, 17 June 2020 - accessible here A black MEP has said she was a victim of police violence at the hands of Belgian officers, on the day the European parliament debated anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, ...
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Update by ECF originally published on Civicus Monitor, 19 June 2020 - accessible here BACKGROUND At the end of January 2020, prime minister Marjan Šarec resigned. Following this, on 13th March 2020, a new right-wing coalition government was constituted, with Janez Janša being appointed as the new PM. Janša has ...
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Article originally published on BDS website, 11 June 2020 - accessible here ECHR rules unanimously that French highest court’s criminal conviction of Israel boycott advocates violates the European Convention on Human Rights’ freedom of expression article. Decision has major implications for anti-BDS state repression in Europe including Germany, where advocates ...
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- By the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) Following the proclamation of a state of emergency, a government adopts a law which provides that any emergency related information made available to the public shall only refer to official information provided by the government, under the threat of heavy fines ...
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Article originally published by ECF on Civicus Monitor, 15 May 2020 - accessible here ASSOCIATION The emergency measures implemented in Latvia due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have had a negative impact on the organised civil society sector, as reported by the national platform Civic Alliance - Latvia (CAL). On 17th ...
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On May 26, Eric Ciotti, a member of the National Assembly (LR Group – conservative right) submitted a draft law, together with 27 MPs, which caused a massive outcry. The text aims at sanctioning anyone who would share images of law enforcement representatives in the public domain, either via social ...
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