In focus

Freedom of expression is under threat across Europe and Central Asia. In Russia, Belarus and Central Asia, , fears of instability, combined with rejection of so-called ‘Western values’, is manifesting in severe legislative restrictions and crackdowns on independent media and civil society. Turkey is enduring an an unprecedented crackdown on civil society as the government seeks to eliminate all opposition.

Protections for freedom of expression in transitioning democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia are currently threatened by vested interests. Within the European Union security concerns are increasingly evoked to justify restrictions, and overly broad legal definitions of extremism and terrorism are censoring dissent across the region. This is particularly prevalent online, where content is blocked and individuals prosecuted for opinions expressed on social media platforms.  Meanwhile,  several EU countries, including Germany, the UK and France are implementing intrusive surveillance mechanisms, and pressurising social media companies to remove content without due process.

Media outlets across the Former Soviet Union and Turkey, have experienced targeted litigation with journalists facing trumped-up defamation or incitement charges as well as  physical violence. Indeed continued impunity for violence against journalists has created a chilling  environment leading to  self-censorship and an increase in  “hate speech” being recorded and witnessed against minorities, particularly LGBTI people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is often underscored by direct and indirect censorship.

ARTICLE 19 supports independent media, civil society and activists across the region to exercise and defend the right to freedom of expression and access to information. We challenge restrictive legislation, as well as attacks and imprisonment of individuals that violate freedom of expression, and we do this through campaigns, advocacy, policy development and courts of law.  We work with NGOs, journalists  and civil society  in the region   to specifically challenge hate speech, particularly on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Our work

ARTICLE 19 supports independent media, civil society and activists across the region to exercise and defend the right to freedom of expression and access to information. We challenge restrictive legislation, as well as attacks and imprisonment of individuals that violate freedom of expression, and we do this through campaigns, advocacy, policy development and courts of law.  . We work with NGOs, journalists  and civil society  in the region   to specifically challenge hate speech, particularly on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Meet the Team

Turkey: Elif Shafak on media freedom and civil society