"As part of the reviews of laws and practices, member States which have defamation laws should ensure that those laws include freedom of expression safeguards that conform to European and international human rights standards, including truth/public-interest/fair comment defences and safeguards against misuse and abuse, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of proportionality, as developed in the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Furthermore, given the chilling effect that legislation criminalising particular types of expression has on freedom of expression and public debate, States should exercise restraint in applying such legislation, where it exists."
DocumentCoE (Committee of Ministers): Recommendation Rec(2016)4 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists and Other Media Actors, para. I.6
- Defamation laws should only be used to protect individuals, never to prevent criticism of the government or institutions.
- When considering claims of defamation, political figures and public officials should be subject to greater public scrutiny and criticism than other citizens.
- The expression of an opinion or of a true statement may never constitute a valid claim of defamation.
- There should be a range of remedies available in the case of defamation, respecting the requirement that all remedies be proportional.