Report on the Protection of Journalistic Sources in CoE Countries

The 2016 report “Freedom of Expression and Protection of Journalistic Sources” covers 28 Council of Europe countries. It is produced by the the International Legal Research Group under the auspices of ELSA and in cooperation with the Council of Europe.

There is a large number of cases where the authorities in Europe have forced journalists to reveal their sources, or at least tried to do so. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Article 10 of the ECHR not only provides protection for the content of information and ideas, but also the means of transmitting them. The press is granted the broadest scope of protection in the case law of the Court, including the confidentiality of journalistic sources. Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public about matters of public interest. The alarm function of the press may be undermined and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information may be adversely affected as journalistic sources are not protected. An order to disclose journalistic sources will not be compatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, unless it is justified by reasons of general interest.

The Council of Europe has established that violations are more frequently encountered in the Member States without clear legislation about the topic. To shed light on this issue, ELSA International, in cooperation with the Council of Europe, has launched an international study to understand how journalistic sources are protected in each Member State.

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* - References to Kosovo are without prejudice to positions on status. They are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Kosovo declaration of independence.