World Press Freedom Day was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993.

The date chosen for this annual celebration was 3 May, which is a day of action in the form of initiatives designed to uphold press freedom, as well as a day for assessing the state of press freedom in the world, a day for warning the public and raising awareness, a day for encouraging debate among media professionals, and a commemoration of all the journalists who have lost their lives while doing their job.

The Council of Europe's action to promote press freedom and freedom of information is based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, under which this fundamental right is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Council carries out co-operation activities helping countries to draft legislation and introduce practices which comply with European standards. One of the things that it has done is set up an international group of specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis. The information society is changing, so the Council of Europe now faces the challenge of upholding and maintaining its fundamental principles in new environments, the main one of which is the Internet.

Journalists in times of crisis

Wars, terrorism, threats to stability and natural disasters are leading to stricter security and surveillance all over the world. What effect does this have on access to information and on journalism?

Concerned about the erosion of press freedom in times of crisis, the Council of Europe has adopted three particularly significant documents:

  • a Declaration on freedom of expression and information in the media in the context of the fight against terrorism,
  • Guidelines on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, and
  • a Declaration on the protection and promotion of investigative journalism.

They are based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which aims to guarantee freedom of expression and information within the jurisdiction of the 47 Council of Europe member states.

Europe’s duty to protect journalists Europe’s duty to protect journalists
Commissioner for Human Rights Strasbourg 3 May 2018
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Europe’s duty to protect journalists

In an opinion editorial that more than 20 leading news outlets published today, ahead of World Press Freedom Day, Commissioner Mijatović called on member states to improve the safety of journalists.

The article shows the extent of the threats journalists face in Europe, calls upon states to protect them and recommends concrete action that states should take.

Underscoring that the many threats that fuel insecurity among journalists in Europe are also undermining democracy, the Commissioner urges member states to increase the protection of journalists, end impunity for crimes against them, improve legislation and change the hostile attitude many politicians have towards the press.

“The murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Ján Kuciak and many other journalists were not due to fate, but to structural deficiencies in state institutions that should have protected them,” she writes. “This situation endangers journalists as much as democracy. It is high time that states acknowledge it and ensure the safety of journalists and other media actors.”

See also:
Our file on the World Press Freedom Day

More information More information

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

''Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.''

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