Freedom of Expression: new guidelines

On May 12, 2014, the Council of the European Union adopted the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, in order to: (i) explain the international human rights standards on freedom of opinion and expression,  (ii) provide a guidance to officials of the EU Institutions and member states for their work in third countries, (iii) contribute to preventing potential violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Hence, the guidelines identify some priority areas: a) combating violence, persecution, harassment and intimidation of individuals, including journalists and other media actors, because of their exercise of the right to freedom of expression online and offline, and combating impunity for such crimes; b) promoting laws and practices that protect freedom of opinion and expression; c) promoting media freedom and pluralism and fostering an understanding among public authorities of the dangers of unwarranted interference with impartial/critical reporting; d) promoting and respecting human rights in cyberspace and other information and communication technologies; e) promoting best practices by companies; f) promoting legal amendments and practices aimed at strengthening data protection and privacy online/offline.
The guidelines identify the following tools in order to ensure the protection of the freedom of expression: a) political dialogues and high level visits; b) monitoring, assessing and reporting on freedom of expression; c) public statements and demarches; d) financial instruments; e) public diplomacy in multilateral fora; f) media freedom and pluralism in the EU enlargement policy; g) promoting Council of Europe and OSCE acquis; h) trade measures; i) training and technical exchanges; l) capacity building.

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