Press release - 379(2011)

World Press Freedom Day

Council of Europe and PEN International call for stronger protection of freedom of expression

Strasbourg/London, 03.05.2011 - The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, today made the following joint statement to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. They added that they are making this joint statement to express their concern over the growing threats to freedom of expression.

“Journalists and writers across the world are imprisoned and silenced every year for saying or writing things that did not please those in power. Now we are witnessing the imprisonment of bloggers, citizen journalists, web-activists – even simple Internet users, for legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression.

It has never been easier to exercise our rights to expression and information, but it has also never been easier to interfere with them.

When freedom of expression cannot be exercised fully by media professionals or by writers, the freedom of each of us, of every citizen, is endangered. Our rights to receive information and to freely form and to hold views and opinions are limited. Our right to informed participation is eroded. Ultimately, democracy is compromised.

Freedom of speech is one of the essential pillars of a genuine democracy, it requires extraordinary protection. This is enshrined in Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We urge all governments, civil society actors, technical communities and the private sector to work together to protect freedom of expression in our common interest” Mr. Jagland and Mr. Saul said. “The Council of Europe and PEN International, drawing on our respective strengths, are currently looking at ways that we can cooperate to this end.”

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The Council of Europe is a political Organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe promotes human rights, democracy and the rule of law throughout the continent. It develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 47 member States, which are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the rights and freedoms it protects.

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, its global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. Its programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world. PEN International operates in all five continents, with 144 PEN Centres in 102 countries. In 2010 it monitored over 700 cases worldwide of writers and journalists killed, disappeared, attacked, threatened or on trial.

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

pressunit@coe.int

www.coe.int



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