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.
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The Information Society Department of the Council of Europe has unveiled its report on the state of freedom of expression in Council of Europe member States in 2021.
This annual review, based on the findings of Council of Europe bodies and monitoring mechanisms, is focussed on legal guarantees for freedom of expression, safeguards for the safety of journalists and others who speak up, independent and pluralistic media environment and reliability and trust of information.
“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.
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights
The murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017 sent shock waves through Europe. Violence and acts of harassment against journalists have become alarmingly frequent, as was laid bare in the Council of Europe’s 2017 survey of 940 journalists across the continent.
This follow-up study is about the human cost to journalists who seek to hold the powerful to account. It is based on in-depth interviews with 20 journalists who use their reporting skills to expose corruption, injustice and abuses, often putting their safety at risk. They share their insights into the realities of practising cutting-edge journalism while facing aggression, intimidation and vicious cyber-attacks. Too often the necessary protections fail and crimes against journalists go unpunished.
Following the decision of the Committee of Ministers on 16 March 2022 the Russian Federation is no longer a member of the Council of Europe. The website will be updated as soon as possible to take account of this development.