Freedom of expression is one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralistic society. Its corollary is access for everyone to accurate, reliable and timely information, a key precondition for informed public participation. The role of the media and journalists in seeking out, verifying and distributing information is crucial.

States have the responsibility to provide adequate safeguards, both through law and practice, for the effective enjoyment and protection of freedom of expression, including by creating an enabling environment for free and responsible media to flourish and play their essential role in democracy.

The Council of Europe is well placed to help prevent and address the threats to the exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, both offline and in the online environment.

The Convention and related case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the relevant Committee of Ministers’ recommendations and the guidelines and tools that have been developed in this area, as well as the Convention on Access to Official Documents (Tromsø Convention) provide the basis for the Organization’s action in the field. This action includes standard-setting and co-operation activities, as well as alerts and reporting on the most recent developments in the field, encompassing both the multilateral perspective and country-specific issues.

Standard-setting work on freedom of expression and information, media freedom and relevant digital governance issues is carried out by the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI), through its specialized expert committees and with the support of the Freedom of Expression and CDMSI Division.

The Division for Cooperation on Freedom of Expression helps member states and beyond implement those standards by providing legal and policy advice on relevant reforms and legislation. It also provides assistance through capacity-building and training tailored to the national institutions, media regulators, public broadcasters, law enforcement, journalists, civil society and other relevant actors.

The Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists reports on serious threats to the safety of journalists and media freedom in Europe in order to reinforce the Council of Europe’s response to the threats and member states’ accountability.

"We welcome the Council of Europe’s prominent role in international standard-setting on freedom of expression and related issues such as media freedom, access to information and combatting hate speech and disinformation, including the instrumentalisation of history, in particular in the light of the increasing impact of digital technologies on these issues. We will continue our collective efforts for the safety of journalists and other media actors."

Reykjavik Declaration

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression"

Art. 10 European Convention on Human Rights

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