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:

(Sherpa) Paris, 13 May 2019 –  17 humanitarian and human rights NGOs today denounced threats to press freedom after three French journalists were summoned by the French intelligence services for investigating the presence of French weapons in the conflict in Yemen. Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal of the French investigative media Disclose, ...
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(European Civic Forum for Civicus Monitor) Eestis juba ei sobi avalikult öelda, et rassistid on valitsuses. Välismeediat tsiteerides veel tohib. https://t.co/bWlhXchkmj — Vilja Kiisler (@ViljaKiisler) May 12, 2019 On 3rd March 2019, the Estonian parliamentary elections took place with election turnout just over 63 per cent. The centre-right Reform Party won ...
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On May 23, the anti-fascist protest in Genoa against a rally of Casapound, a far right movement, was heavily suppressed by police forces who beat up and launched tear gas on the protesters. This serious event happening in Genoa, a city which was awarded with golden medal for resisting the ...
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(Ossigeno per l'informazione) On the dramatic theme of the criminal roots of the Mafia, on its influence on society and on the phenomena of corruption, newspapers and journalists in Italy produce less coverage than it would be desirable. This assessment is widely shared. There are numerous reasons: fear, threats, retaliation, connivance, ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) Journalists in the UK are increasingly being targeted by pro-Brexit and far-right activist while covering protests. The trend is on the rise, according to Reporters without Borders UK’s Rebecca Vincent. For example, the Guardian newspaper columnist Owen Jones reported of being mobbed by pro-Brexit supporters ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) On 12th February 2019, two problematic freedom of expression bills – the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill - were enacted, despite strong concerns by civil society, press freedom organisations and opposition parties. These groups argued that these two laws fall ...
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On Saturday 20 April, during Act 23 of the Gilets Jaunes protests, photo-journalist Gaspard Glanz was arrested in Paris for “participation in a group aiming to commit violence or damages” and “offence against officials representing the public authority.” He was kept in custody for 48 hours after he raised his ...
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(Collective ZIN TV) On Tuesday 5 March, a photographer, a collective of photographers, an association of media and a human rights association will be sued by the police services. For what reason? For organizing a photographic exhibition aimed at debating important issues on subjects of public interest. The programme includes ...
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(Liberties on CIVICUS Monitor) On 17th December 2018, a makeshift explosive device exploded near the headquarters of Greece’s SKAI TV and Kathimerini newspaper. The bomb went off at 2:37 a.m. local time following warning calls to two media companies. The powerful explosion caused extensive damages to the building where the media office was located but ...
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(European Centre for Press and Media Freedom) On Friday, 15. February 2019, the German Parliament will debate motions by the Greens and Die Linke to amend the draft Law to protect trade secrets from illegal acquisition and illegal use and disclosure (GeschGehGe, Federal Law 19/4724). With this law, the government seeks to implement EU ...
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