Press Release - 321(2008)

    Europe needs more free debate in the media, says PACE rapporteur

    Strasbourg, 02.05.2008 - Andrew McIntosh (United Kingdom, SOC), Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) rapporteur on media freedom, reminded European governments and parliaments on the eve of Press Freedom Day to do more for the respect of freedom of expression and information in the media.

    “The expression of critical opinions is an essential condition of democracy. We therefore need more lively political debates in the media. Media legislation must respect this democratic freedom”, he said.

    “Democratic stability is at risk, if democratic freedoms are neglected. Only weak governments will use the law to silence political and social debate in the media. When there is no room for debates in the media, opposition will have to go underground or in exile outside the country. We see this clearly in Belarus, but several Council of Europe member states also fall short of their commitments under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”, Mr McIntosh added.

    “The Parliamentary Assembly has passed several resolutions and recommendations to emphasise that it is wrong to imprison opposition journalists. It is wrong to penalise media for defamation through closure. It is wrong to have legislation which penalises insults to a nation. It is wrong to empower government ministers to impose administrative sanctions upon media, rather than to have independent courts of law. It is wrong to have media monopolies that limit the range of views expressed in the media. The Assembly will continue upholding democratic freedoms, including media freedom, through constructive political criticism where necessary. Strengthening democracy and human rights is a core aim of the Council of Europe.”, he concluded.

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