Back Decriminalisation of defamation: Council of Europe guidance on proportionality of laws and conformity with human rights

13 July 2018
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Aware of the potential chilling effect of overprotective defamation laws on freedom of expression and public debate, the Council of Europe promotes decriminalisation of defamation and provides guidance to its member states to ensure proportionality of defamation laws and their application with regard to human rights.

The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights serves as an important reference point for assessing the risks of human rights violations that are inherent in the structure and content of national defamation laws.

The Council of Europe has taken various steps in order to promote the decriminalisation of defamation, to define standards and to address the issue of “Libel tourism”. A summary of the standard-setting work of the Council of Europe in this field in the form of resolutions, recommendations, studies and declarations is given in the Council of Europe Leaflet on Defamation.


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Following the decision of the Committee of Ministers on 16 March 2022 the Russian Federation is no longer a member of the Council of Europe. The website will be updated as soon as possible to take account of this development.

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression"

Art. 10 European Convention on Human Rights


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