Freedom of expression and information

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

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. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.  


Council of Europe issues network neutrality guidelines to protect freedom of expression and privacy

Strasbourg, 13.01.2016 – The Council of Europe today called on European states to safeguard the principle of network neutrality in the development of national legal frameworks in order to ensure the protection of the right to freedom of expression and to access to information, and the right to privacy.

 In a Recommendation, the Committee of Ministers representing the 47 Council of European member States, issued a set of network neutrality guidelines pointing out that Internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference irrespective of the sender, receiver, content, application, service or device.  

Whilst acknowledging that Internet traffic management can sometimes pursue legitimate purposes, the Committee of Ministers stresses that it can also result in blocking, discrimination or prioritisation of specific types of content, applications or services.  

Charlie Hebdo - One year after

journalistsTurkey: Freedom of expression working group agrees 2016 actions

Today in Ankara, the informal working group between the Council of Europe and the Turkish Ministry of Justice met to discuss issues relating to freedom of expression in the country. Secretary General Jagland said: “There was progress today. Now we are looking forward to real change”.(more...)

9th plenary meeting of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) – Strasbourg, 8-11 December 2015.

9th CDMSI meeting

 Three major drafts were on the agenda of this important meeting to complete its 2014-2015 mandate:
* a draft Committee of Ministers recommendation on protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors;
* a draft Committee of Ministers recommendation on Internet freedom;
* the draft Council of Europe Internet Strategy 2016-2019.  

All three were approved and forwarded to the Committee of Ministers for possible adoption. 

Major Council of Europe conference

Freedom of expression: still a precondition for democracy?

 13 and 14 October 2015, Strasbourg  

Over 400 participants in the conference in Strasbourg on 13-14 October assessed serious threats to freedom of expression, in particular in the light of recent events such as the brutal assault against Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris in January. Attorney at Law of Charlie Hebdo, Richard Malka, European Court of Human Rights judges, national judges, journalists and representatives from media freedom organisations, governments and international organisations attended this Conference. 
They assessed the extent to which Europe may be sliding towards criminalising free expression, when dealing with hate speech, and they considered how to fight terrorism whilst respecting free expression online – and what implications mass surveillance has on free expression.

A recent effort to support free expression, the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, was appraised as a tool that fosters early warnings of threats against journalists, to enable effective preventive action. 

Speakers at the opening of the conference included Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjřrn Jagland, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Almir Šahović representing the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, President of the Constitutional Court of Turkey Zühtü Arslan, Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, German Federal Government Commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid Christoph Strässer. 

To know more and see the conference recordings...


Is journalism under threat? Censorship, political pressure, intimidation, job insecurity and attacks on the protection of journalists’ sources - how can these threats be tackled? What is the role of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and national governments in protecting journalists and freedom of expression?
10 experts from different backgrounds analyse the situation from various angles. At a time when high-quality, independent journalism is more necessary than ever - and yet when the profession is facing many different challenges - they explore the issues surrounding the role of journalism in democratic societies.

Authors: Onur Andreotti (editor), Nils Muižnieks, Tarlach McGonagle, Sejal Parmar, Başak Çalı, Dirk Voorhoof, Kerem Altıparmak, Yaman Akdeniz, Katharine Sarikakis, Aidan White, Eugenia Siapera, Pierre Haski
Order it here (Council of Europe Bookshop)


Foe video trailer

Clic on the picture...


Attack on journalists is attack on the society at large

Council of Europe video clip issued on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day. (clic on the picture)

SG's report on state o democracy, HR and RoLMedia freeedom and free   speech are hampered in all Europe

Secretary General 's Report on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law in Europe

Europe’s democratic shortcomings are bigger, deeper and geographically more widespread than previously understood according to the latest overview of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the 47 Council of Europe member states.

The report, by Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjřrn Jagland, identifies the lack of judicial independence in many countries and threats to media freedom across the continent as the two biggest challenges to democratic security.

“Honest and decent courts are essential for supporting democracy and maintaining stability, yet over a third of our member countries are failing to ensure that their legal systems are sufficiently independent and impartial,” said the Secretary General.
Media freedom, on the other hand, is under pressure across the whole continent. Journalists face physical threats in many places, anti-terror laws are being used to limit free speech and certain media arrangements unfairly favour those who are in power.”

The Secretary General’s overview – which is based on findings from the Council of Europe’s thematic monitoring bodies – identifies shortcomings in the conduct of elections, inadequate anti-discrimination rules and pressure on NGOs in many countries as further areas of concern.
As well as statistical analysis, the report includes detailed criteria for assessing different aspects of democratic security and specific plans for follow-up work – including a pan-European action plan for training legal professionals and a new three-year programme on the safety of journalists.

Follow the Guide

Follow the guide  The Council of Europe launched a A Guide on human rights for Internet users to help them better understand their human rights online and what they can do when these rights are challenged.
To know your rights, follow the Guide !! 
Available also in Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, German, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Russian and Turkish. More languages to come.


New adopted texts

To facilitate their dissemination, some of the standards adopted by the Council of Europe have been translated into other languages than English and French, sometimes by members States themselves. You will find these translations in our "Translations" section.  

See previous news

Media, society and culture Media and democracy
Media in time of crisis Freedom of expression
Freedom of the media
Diversity and concentration Copyright
Neighbouring rights
Public service media Radio
Internet and children
Media education
Internet and information society
Calendar 2016
CDMSI meetings and other Information Society meetings and events
Coming soon


Cooperation Activities

The co-operation activities in the media field help to promote freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in line with the Council of Europe standards.
Highlight on recent activities:
Analysis of the Draft Law of Ukraine "On amending certain Laws with regard to Public Broadcasting of Ukraine". Learn more

Achievements -  Moldova:
Following Council of Europe expert opinion on draft laws that amend and supplement Moldova’s Audiovisual Code,  amendments and supplements to Audiovisual Code adopted by Parliament and take effect.

To know more, follow the links


Seminar and Inter-regional Dialogue on the protection of journalists 3 November 2014, Strasbourg

The Seminar addresses the need to improve legal protections for journalists whose safety and security are threatened because of their work.
Learn more