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The Media and Internet division of the Council of Europe is a reference point within the broad area of the work accomplished by different Council of Europe bodies on freedom of expression and media. The division also ensures the work of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI).
The Media and Internet division issues publications on relevant topics and organises activities, such as conferences, seminars and other events to foster discussions on how to best preserve freedom of expression and information in Europe. It also ensures co-operation activities by offering expertise and assistance on Council of Europe standards to media and new-media actors, as well as guidance to governments and regulatory authorities in target countries. The aim is to foster an enabling environment for freedom of expression by taking into account the challenges of a changing media landscape.
The division works with various subjects under freedom of expression, such as protection of journalism and safety of journalists, decriminalisation of defamation, gender equality in the media, countering hate speech.
Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) is at the core of the Council of Europe’s system for the protection of the right to freedom of expression. Principles regarding freedom of expression are further established by the European Court of Human Rights’ case law, which is steadily growing.
Freedom of Expression, the Media and Journalists: Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (updated July 2015) contains summaries of over 240 judgments or decisions by the Court and provides hyperlinks to the full text of each of the summarised judgments or decisions (via HUDOC, the Court’s online case-law database.)
Journalists and other media actors are facing major challenges, including physical attacks in Europe today. The member states of the Council of Europe have the duty to actively protect journalists in order to create an enabling environment for their journalistic activities.
Gender equality is a prerequisite for human rights, democracy and social justice. Equal access to media work and management posts for both sexes is indispensable and the presentation of men and women in the media must not undermine gender equality.
Hate speech has no universally accepted definition; the term is used to describe extremely negative discourse that constitutes a threat to social peace. The Media and Internet division works to raise awareness, to reduce the levels of acceptance and to develop consensus on policy instruments combating hate speech.
Criminal provisions on defamation still feature in the legislation of most Council of Europe member States. While the concept of defamation is to protect the reputations of individuals against injury, the concept must be brought in relation to freedom of expression and public debate.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression"
Art. 10 European Convention on Human Rights