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.

read more... >>

latest news

Back Belarus journalists in exile meet in Strasbourg

Belarus journalists in exile meet in Strasbourg

The Council of Europe and the Strasbourg Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom are organising a workshop on 21-22 March 2023 in Strasbourg, with some 30 journalists, representing Belarusian media, support mechanisms and journalists’ associations in the “host” European countries, the Council of Europe partner organisations, participating in the Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists.

The workshop is the first action of a list of several activities agreed in the framework of Council of Europe Contact Group on Belarus established to develop co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Belarusian democratic forces and civil society on the effective implementation of human rights and the rule of law standards.

In recent months and years, the government of Belarus has established a legal and political climate that makes it impossible for independent journalists and media to report on political and social developments in the country without fear of reprisal. As a result of the ongoing oppression, the remaining significant and politically influential independent news media have folded, while professional journalists and other media actors have either stopped reporting on the sensitive issues or fled to exile abroad, and currently based in Lithuania, Poland, other Central and Eastern European countries, Germany, and in the South Caucasus. 

Many journalists, who recently fled Belarus, still struggle to find media jobs. Online media attempts to reach their audience at home from abroad despite the blocking of access to their websites by the authorities. They provide significant input into countering disinformation and propaganda of the Lukashenka regime in their country for Russian- and Belarusian-speaking audiences at home and abroad. 

The same situation is true for a number of individuals (such as media educators, activists of professional associations of journalists, and media lawyers) who were fired from their jobs for their stand on the war in Ukraine and/or on political developments in Belarus. The co-existence of such journalists and the media in exile is marked by solidarity and not competition for the audiences, in particular, due to the strong elements of the civil society which have also fled the country.

For example, the activities of an independent Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) were banned in 2021 by the Supreme Court of Belarus. The same year, by demand of the Ministry of Justice, a court liquidated PEN Belarus. They are now operating from abroad, in particular thanks to the support provided by the European Federation of Journalists, of which BAJ is a member. The oppression of such groups in Belarus definitely aims at the core resistance to the destruction of civil societies in the country.

During the workshop, the participants will outline the main lines of support they and their colleagues would request the Council of Europe and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to provide through a particular set of activities or decisions. It will also be a venue for networking and planning joint professional work with the European journalists and support mechanisms that are also expected to attend. Since most of the journalists in exile are currently stationed in about a dozen places in Europe, it is worthwhile to discuss the idea of strengthening a network of “media freedom hubs” with the support of the EFJ, Council of Europe, IFEX, Reporters without Borders and other interested stakeholders.


Strasbourg 21 March 2023
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page


Internet governance

Co-operation projects


In time of conflict

The right to freedom of expression and information constitutes one of the essential foundations of democratic society. In conflict situations and wars, the role of the media is critical in providing the public with accurate and timely information. Trustworthy news and images can contribute to the protection of civilians and conflict prevention, bring to the attention of the international community the horrors and reality of conflict and expose violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

 Visit the "Freedom of expression in times of conflict" webpage

Journalists Matter Campaign

Journalists Matter, the Council of Europe Campaign for the Safety of Journalists is an initiative aiming to promote press freedom and protect journalists from violence, threats, and harassment while performing their duties. As part of this Campaign, the Council of Europe is inviting everyone to support their cause, take action for their enhanced protection, while raising awareness about the importance of safeguarding journalists and their right to report the news freely and without fear. 

 Visit the "Campaign for the Safety of Journalists" webpage

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression"

Art. 10 European Convention on Human Rights

follow us