Media Freedom: Journalists in times of crisis

War, terrorism, threats to stability and natural disasters lead to greater security and surveillance measures worldwide. How is this affecting how journalists access information and report?

Join our new discussion forum

Freedom of expression and information is essential at any time in a democratic society but it becomes all the more important in times of crisis.

We invite you mainly journalists but also anyone concerned about freedom of expression to contribute, through our new discussion forum, to our daily effort to guarantee this fundamental right.

Please share with us, your colleagues and a wider audience your experiences, concerns and views on the rights and responsibilities of journalists in times of crisis. Here are some of the questions that, in our view, merit special attention:

  • During crises, authorities sometimes limit the free movement of media professionals or access to information by arguing for the need to guarantee their safety. To what extent is this justified? What is your experience?
  • The right of journalists not to disclose their sources of information is essential if media are to exercise their role as public watchdog. What are your experiences and views on the protection of sources and on its limits?
  • In recent months the re-publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons and a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders have re-ignited an intense debate on freedom of expression. Should the publication of content that people of any religion may find offensive be restricted or sanctioned? What are your personal experiences and views on the handling of such sensitive issues?

Address any of these topics or propose a new relevant one for discussion, share your problems or your positive experiences. Whatever choice you make, your contribution will be highly appreciated. For our part, we shall do our best to react to your concerns.



Concerned by the erosion of press freedom in crisis situations, the Council of Europe has adopted three documents particularly relevant to this subject a Declaration on freedom of expression and information in the media in the context of the fight against terrorism, Guidelines on protection freedom of expression and information in times of crisis and a Declaration on the protection and promotion of investigative journalism. They are based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which aims to guarantee freedom of expression and information within the jurisdiction of the 47 Council of Europe member states.

 Discussion Forum 

- Better safe than informed?

- Free expression and respect for beliefs

- Protecting that valuable anonymous source

Council of Europe and media freedom in times of crisis

- Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis

- Safeguarding free speech and the right to information: media in times of crisis", Strasbourg, 13-14 October 2005

- Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism

- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Resolution 1438 Recommendation 1702 (2005) and Recommendation 1706 (2005)

- Declaration on freedom of expression and information in the media in the context of the fight against terrorism

- Declaration and Recommendation No R (96) 4 on the protection of journalists in situations of conflict and tension


Useful links


- International News Safety Institute

- The Rory Peck Trust