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. 

Assessing challenges Assessing challenges

In its Declaration on freedom of political debate in the media, adopted on 12 February 2004, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe laid down the basic framework of principles to protect the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when the state, public institutions and political figures are involved in media’s coverage of political debate.

Promoting Decriminalisation of Defamation Promoting Decriminalisation of Defamation
News Defamation News Defamation
Addressing "Libel Tourism" Addressing "Libel Tourism"
Identifying risks and defining standards Identifying risks and defining standards

Acting upon the aforementioned instruments of the Committee of Ministers and PACE, the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) worked on a number of prominent issues that are of particular importance in light of the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) case-law. 

What does the court say? What does the court say?