The media should not be prevented from expressing criticisms of the government.
- Pluralist democracy and freedom of political debate require that the public is informed about matters of public concern, which includes the right of the media to disseminate negative information and critical opinions concerning political figure and public officials, as well as the right of the public to receive them.
- The maintenance and development of genuine democracy require the existence and strengthening of free, independent, pluralistic, and responsible journalism. This requirement is reflected in the need for journalism to: submit the exercise of the various types of powers to continuous and critical examination.
- The State, the government or any other institution of the executive, legislative or judicial branch may be subject to criticism in the media. Because of their dominant position, these institution as such should not be protected by criminal law against defamatory or insulting statements. Where, however, these institutions enjoy such a protection, this protection should be applied in a restrictive manner, avoiding in any circumstances its use to restrict freedom to criticise. Individuals representing these institutions remain furthermore protected as individuals.
- (p) While noting that article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, to refrain from imposing restrictions which are not consistent with paragraph 3 of that article, including on: (i) Discussion of government policies and political debate; reporting on human rights, government activities and corruption in government; engaging in election campaigns, peaceful demonstrations or political activities, including for peace or democracy; and expression of opinion and dissent, religion or belief, including by persons belonging to minorities or vulnerable groups;
- States should put in place a range of measures, including those highlighted in our Joint Declaration of 12 December 2007, to create an environment in which a pluralistic media sector can flourish. These should include, among others, obligations of transparency of media ownership, licensing of different types of broadcasters to promote diversity, rules to prevent undue concentration of media ownership and measures to promote content diversity among and within media outlets.