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29 March 2020

Activity Details (ID# 23475)  

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Title Seminar on access to freedom of expression, free access to information and right to privacy  
Status Completed 
Date 26/06/2008 - 27/06/2008 
Location Ivanjica, Serbia
Countries CoE Members: Serbia
  Joint Programme Activity - Media-Serb II
Joint Programme EC/CoE
JP Media-Serb II - Support to promote freedom of expression and information and freedom of media in accordance with CoE/EU standards    (Logframe)  (Activities)
Project Purpose 1 - 2006/DGHL/JP/1648   Media-Serb 2 - To support the establishment of a regulatory framework for freedom of expression and for the media
Expected Result 1.3 - R.3 Media professionals are informed of and trained in their rights and responsibilities
Council of Europe Programme of Activities
I – Human Rights
Line of Action ⇒ I.3 – Human Rights in public policy
Programme ☆ I.3.5  Media, information society and data protection
Project 2008/DGHL/1416 Legislative assistance, training, awareness raising
Expected Result 3 Media professionals are informed and trained on their rights and responsibilities according to CoE standards. Civil Society and Industry upholds CoE standards in the context of new communication services.

Working Method

Organisation of meetings - Seminar 
Directorate (Service) Human Rights and Legal Affairs (Cooperation - Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building Department)
CoE Contact DERVISAGIC, Lejla   email
Last Modified 10/12/2008 

Activity Synopsis (ID# 23475) (Hide Synopsis)

Objective(s) This seminar was implemented with aim to train media professionals in line with Council of Europe standards on freedom of expression and information and to exchange information and implementation of those standards in their work. General purpose of the seminar was to inform journalists and lawyers on European standards, Serbian positive regulation and practise 
Output/Results During this seminar speakers and participants have discussed possibilities of balancing between two fundamental rights – freedom of expression and right to privacy.

Mr Joksimovic made an introductory overview on Council of Europe, its values and institutions. Afterwards, Council of Europe expert Mr Ad van Loon made presentation on Freedom of expression and information in a democratic society and the right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights with a comparative look at the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. He especially draw attention to the subjects of information – public figures, politicians, prominent businessmen, civil servants. If newspaper or TV programme say bad things about civil servants especially judges that can take into independency of judiciary so media should not criticise civil servants private life’s if it doesn’t infect their professional work.

All participants and experts agreed that balance between those two rights is a complex issue. Rights of journalists and media is to express themselves and it’s role is to investigate and to report to public are public authorities abusing they power or doing things expected of them. Media should be very careful and they should ensure factual basis for its statements before publication. For sure, electronic media have much more impact on society then printed media and they can also tolerate higher restrictions. There are many cases before European Court of Human Rights as consequence of violation of Articles 8 and 10. Still, since importance of Internet will be much wider in the future we will see what kind of practice will Court establish in regards of Internet related cases.

It is important to make balance between importance to report that some person has done something and impact that information will have to that’s person life. Recommendation to journalists is to make balance in each particular case.

Right to privacy involves usage of data on someone’s life so it is of significant importance to make distinction on facts concerning one’s private conduct and facts concerning one’s public conduct and conscious choices. Participants had opportunity to learn that State should be abstained from any interference except in cases where there is a legitimate aim (national security, public safety and protection of the rights and freedoms of others). State interference should always be in accordance with the law. There has to accessible and foreseeable legal basis for that kind of action. If there is no legitimate aim it is violation of right to privacy. State has to protect privacy and to enable effective enjoyment of rights and if needed to undertake particular measures. First day of seminar has ended with the panel discussion. Participants had many questions for experts and were very interested in sharing of their experiences related to the presented topics.

Second day of seminar was devoted to the free access to information of public importance. Speaker at this session was Mr. Rodoljub Sabic, Commissioner for information on public importance. Mr. Sabic has presented work of his office and procedures related to the access to the information. Authorities in Serbia had a practice to give information only when and in scope they think it is needed but that situation is changing now.

It is important to stress that authorities are obliged to provide information on their budget and work to citizens and that is not dependant on their will. Participants also learned that all citizens have right to access those information and they do not need to explain there motives for pose that kind of questions. Authorities have obligation to answer to requests on access to some information and to enable citizens to get a copy of document of interest. By now, in Serbian practice, 2/3 request were answered positively, many of them after Commissioners intervention.

Commissioner underlined that it is of significant importance to develop culture of access to information and to promote that right as a right of all citizens. Conclusion is that the access to information of public importance is still the right we should fight for, through education, trainings and investigative work of journalists.

Conclusions/Follow Up Participants were very interested in presentations which were followed by fruitful discussion and exchanged point of views and professional experiences. They evaluated presented topics as useful and applicable in their work.

Participants Serbian journalists, editors and lawyers 
Consultants/Experts Mr Ad Van Loon, Managing Director, X-Media Strategies, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Freedom of expression and information in a democratic society and the right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights: a comparative look at Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, Freedom of the media: the freedom to collect and disseminate information and margin of appreciation

Mr Aleksandar Resanovic, Executive Director, Centre for peace and democracy development, The protection of privacy and personal data

Mr Rodoljub Sabic, Commissioner for information of public importance, Free access to information of public importance and freedom of privacy and family life

CoE Secretariat Vladan JOKSIMOVC
Total No. Participants 20 
Last Modified


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