Commitment to Review Counter-Terror Laws in Europe

On Wednesday 7 October Access Info joined 40 organisations in sending an open letter to the Council of Europe’s new Secretary General Thorbjoern Jagland calling for follow up to the commitment made by member states at a meeting held in Reykjavik in May 2009 to review the impact of counter-terror laws on freedom of expression and access to information.

We have since received news that the letter has been received and is on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) on 20-23 October.

file_pdf Letter Council of Europe file_doc Letter Council of Europe odf2odt-16x16 Letter Council of Europe


Access Info will continue to press for action on the promises made in Reykjavik. If any human rights, media freedom or access to information organisation would like to join the campaign please click here to send us an e-mail.



Mr Thorbjoern Jagland
Secretary General, Council of Europe
Avenue de l’Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France

cc: Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

cc: Ms Delia Mucica
Chair, Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC)

cc: Mr Andrew McIntosh
Chair, Sub-Committee on the Media, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe


7 October 2009

Dear Mr Jagland,

In the first place, we welcome your appointment as the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe and wish you every success in promoting human rights and democracy across Europe in the coming five years of your tenure in the position.

As civil society organisations working to promote human rights, freedom of expression and access to information across the Council of Europe region, we are writing to enquire about follow-up to the commitments made at the 1st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and New Communication Services held in Reykjavik, Iceland on 28 and 29 May 2009.


A commitment was made in the conference resolution entitled “Developments in anti-terrorism legislation in Council of Europe member states and their impact on freedom of expression and information” which reads as follows:


Resolve to review our national legislation and/or practice on a regular basis to ensure that any impact of anti-terrorism measures on the right to freedom of expression and information is consistent with Council of Europe standards, with a particular emphasis on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights;

We are writing to find out the status of this promised review of anti-terror measures and in particular how the Council of Europe plans to work with member states to ensure that the review takes place and produces meaningful outcomes that are genuinely protective of the rights enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


From the perspective of civil society, we offer our expertise and combined know-how in the process of defining the benchmarks for such a review. We also call for the review process to be fully transparent and for it to be structured in such a way that it is both open to and takes into full consideration the facts and analysis presented by civil society organisations.


Yours sincerely,


Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe
Andrei Soldatov, Editor, Agentura.Ru
Francesco Diasio, Secretary General, AMARC Europe
Barbora Bukovska, Senior Director for Law, Article 19
William Horsley, Media Freedom Representative, Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Mark Muller QC, Chair, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales
Sahib Mammadov, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Citizens’ Labor Rights Protection League (Azerbaijan) and Member of the Board of Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation
Bill Bowring, Barrister & Professor of Law; Chair, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC); President, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)
Aidan White, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists
Ioana Avadani, Director, Center for Independent Journalism (Romania)
Maja Daruwala, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Pieter de Wit, President, Community Media Forum Europe
Yaman Akdeniz, Director, Cyber Rights, and Cyber Liberties
Preben Sørensen, President, EURALVA (European Alliance of Listeners’ and Viewers’ Associations)
Thomas Schmidt, Secretary General, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)
Valtteri Niiranen, Executive Director, European Newspaper Publishers’ Association
Jon Silverman, Professor, University of Bedfordshire, Fair Trials International
Vladimir Milcin, Executive Director, Foundation Open Society Institute-Macedonia
Tamar Khidasheli, Chairperson, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
Liz Davies, Barrister, Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Róisín Pillay, Senior Legal Adviser, International Commission of Jurists
David Dadge, Director, International Press Institute
Osman Gunduz, President, Internet Forum, Azerbaijan
Dirk Voorhoof, Professor of Law, Legal Human Academy
Vanja Calovic, Executive Director, MANS (Montenegro)
Andrei Richter, Director, Media Law and Policy Institute, Moscow
Peter Noorlander, Legal Director, Media Legal Defence Initiative
Stewart Chisholm, Senior Program Manager, Open Society Media Program
Brankica Petkovic, Programme Director, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
David Banisar, Director the Freedom of Information Programme, Privacy International
Klime Babunski, President, PRO MEDIA (Macedonia)
Jim McDonnell, Director of Development, SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communication)
Tony Bunyan, Director, Statewatch
Tamuna Karosanidze, Executive Director, Transparency International Georgia
Noémi Alexa, Managing Director, Transparency International-Hungary
Volodymyr Yavorskyy, Executive Director, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Ronald Koven, European Representative, World Press Freedom Committee
Vasile Spinei, President, Acces-info Center (Moldova)

À titre personnel

Nico Carpentier, Media Sociologist, Free University of Brussels
Gert-Joachim Glaessner, Professor of German Politics, Humboldt University Berlin
Richard N. Winfield, Chair, World Press Freedom Committee
Peter Molnar, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Media and Communication Studies, Central European University (Budapest)
Arkadiy Buschenko, Chairman of the Board, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Signatures after letter was sent to Council of Europe on 7 October 2009:

Marc Geneve, Secrétaire Général, FICEMEA
Sandor Orban, Director, South East Europe Network for Professionalisation of the Media
Hans Verploeg, Journalist, Netherlands Association of Journalists

à titre personnel

Walter Keim, Trondheim in Norway