Image © Shutterstock In line with the Council of Europe Guidelines on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, the crisis situation should not be used as a pretext for restricting the public's access to information. Neither should states introduce any restrictions on media freedom beyond the limitations allowed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Freedom of expression, media independence and open deliberation, rather than information control, are the core principles underlying European democracy which will allow us to surmount the great challenges facing our countries.

Statement on Freedom of expression and information in times of crisis by the Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on media environment and reform (MSI-REF)

Read more on challenges to freedom of expression and media freedom in the times of crisis and human-rights compliant responses

  • Freedom of expression and information and media freedom are crucial for the functioning of a truly democratic society and continue to be so in times of crisis. The provision of timely information about public health risks is a critical element in crisis response.
  • Media play a key role, also coupled with increased responsibility, in providing accurate, reliable information to the public, but also in preventing panic and fostering people’s understanding for and cooperation with necessary restriction. Media organisations and journalists should adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards, give priority to authoritative messages regarding the crisis, and refrain from publishing, and thus amplifying, unverified stories.