Media freedom, independence and diversity

Free, independent and pluralistic media based on freedom of information and expression is a core element of any functioning democracy. Freedom of the media is in fact essential for the protection of all other human rights. Instances of torture, discrimination, corruption or misuse of power many times have come to light because of the work of investigative journalists. Making the facts known to the public is often the first, essential step to start redressing human rights violations and hold governments accountable.

Worrying signals of repression and violations of media freedom can be observed in a number of European states. Different forms of control and pressure over the variety and content of media hamper their independence and pluralism. Cases of journalists who are deprived of their liberty because of their work continue to occur. Cases of harassment, intimidation, violence - and even murder - have been documented.
During his country visits and continuous dialogue with national authorities, media professionals and civil society, the Commissioner gathers information, identifies shortcomings and provides advice on ways to improve media freedom and the protection of journalist.

He also supports initiatives aimed at strengthening media professionalism and ethical journalism and the establishment of self-regulatory mechanisms.
Human rights and a changing media landscape

The publication Human rights in a changing media landscape aims at raising awareness about the need and importance of free, independent and pluralistic media for democratic societies. It also points to the strong connection between media freedom and the protection of human rights.

The Commissioner invited eight experts to give their personal assessments of six topics and how they relate to human rights: protection of journalists from violence; ethical journalism; access to official documents; media pluralism; public service media; and social media and human rights. In a foreword the Commissioner gives an overview of the trends on these issues in Europe.

"These contributions show that there is a need for stronger protection of media freedom and freedom of expression in Europe today. I hope this book will serve as a spotlight on current challenges", said the Commissioner in connection with the launch of the publication in London in December 2011.
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Latest News

Azerbaijan should ease restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly(06.08.2013)
Commissioner and OSCE media freedom representative concerned at further restrictions to free expression in Azerbaijan (06.06.2013)
Azerbaijan: greater freedom of expression and assembly urgently needed (27.05.2013)
Continued attacks in Europe: journalists need protection from violence (05.06.2012)

Human Rights Comment

Press freedom in the digital age: new threats, new challenges (03.05.2013)
Public service media needed to strengthen pluralism (06.12.2011)
Ethical journalism: self-regulation protects the independence of media (08.11.2011)

Previous Comments
List of the Commissioner's Viewpoints on media freedom published in 2007

Speeches and statements

"Freedom of expression and democracy in the digital age - Opportunities, rights, responsibilities" (07.11.2013)
"Local authorities can make the difference for human rights" (12.11.2012)
"How to ensure that the Internet remains an open and public forum for exercising freedom of opinion and expression and facilitating other human rights and fundamental freedoms" (21.06.2012)
The state of media freedom in Europe (12.09.2011)

Previous Speeches

Country monitoring

Reports and press releases classified by country


Issue Discussion Papers

The six chapters of the publication "Human rights and a changing media landscape" have been published separately, as Issue Discussion Papers.

Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on Hungary's media legislation in light of Council of Europe standards on freedom of the media (CommDH(2011)10, 25.02.2011)

Contribution to OSCE 2010 Review Conference : protection of journalists, defamation, media diversity, ethical journalism. (Warsaw, 30 September- 8 October 2010)


Video of the Open discussion: "Protection of journalists in Europe" in original version, in English and in French (5 October 2011)
Speakers: Thomas  Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights; Dunja  Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Sergey Sokolov, Deputy Editor in Chief of Novaya Gazeta
Positions on freedom of the media

A summary of conclusions and recommendations concerning freedom of the media, based on the Commissioner's country monitoring and thematic reports, issue papers, recommendations, opinions and viewpoints.