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:

Statement by Runnymede Trust, published on 20 April 2021, available here. From 1968 and Rivers of Blood, to 2021 and the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Sewell Report), the Runnymede Trust has worked tirelessly to represent the lives of those millions of Britons who constitute this ...
Read More
Report published by Mapping Media Freedom on 25 February, 2021, available here. On 24 February 2021, the Slovenian Government Communication Office (UKOM) announced it had suspended the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) for the second time in three months. The Slovenian Journalists' Association said the latest contractual dispute ...
Read More
Unofficial translation of open letter, published by European Federation of Journalists, available here. After the death threats received by journalists Nadiya Lazzouni and Morgan Large , the French unions, SNJ , SNJ-CGT , CFDT-Journalists , and Angry Reporters , supported by the IFJ and the FEJ , sent a letter open to the French Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin , so that he immediately puts ...
Read More
- Article by European Federation of Journalists, published on 16 April 2021, available here. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined Slovenian journalists and journalists’ unions in condemning the new threat against Delo’s Brussels correspondent Peter Žerjavič on Twitter. The Slovenian government is known to publicly attack and discredit critical journalists and media outlets. The latest ...
Read More
- Article by European Federation of Journalists published on 02 April 2021, available here. In March 2021, three NGOs, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Jugend Rettet, have been probed by the prosecutors department in the Sicilian city of Trapani for aiding illegal immigration. In the course of this investigation, the police ...
Read More
- Press release by Media Freedom Rapid Response published on 09 April 2021, available here. The Media Freedom Rapid Response expresses horror at the fatal shooting of Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz outside his house in Athens this afternoon ( 9 April) and urges investigators to immediately establish whether the ...
Read More
- ECF update to the CIVICUS Monitor, published on 04 April 2021, available here. Background Following the murder of teacher Samuel Paty as a result of an islamophobia smear campaign, and the terrorist attack in Nice at the end of October 2020, French authorities have cracked down on civil society organisations (CSOs) ...
Read More
- ECF update to the CIVICUS Monitor, published on 30 March 2021, available here. Expression The rise of the far right and targeting of anti-racism activists In the past year there has been a growth in far-right movements, both in terms of their presence on the streets and in political support. In ...
Read More
                                          Unofficial translation of petition of which LDH is a signatory, authored by LGBTI + Solidarity  Campaign Poland, available here, published on 06                ...
Read More
- Original content by ECF in collaboration with Novact. Police in Spain have reacted with violence and arrests in recent protests against police aggression (in Linares, Jaen), and the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel (in Spain’s main cities). In the space of a week, these concerning developments represent a crackdown on the fundamental right to protest and freedom of expression in Spain.  Protesting Police ...
Read More