Council of Europe foreign ministers call for libel reform
By Jean-Paul Marthoz/CPJ Senior Adviser
Trickling back from the summer recess, European press freedom advocates and media lawyers are taking stock of facts and statements that went underreported during the holiday lull. And libel reform stands on top of the pile.
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The Committee of Ministers of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe adopted a declaration denouncing the abuse of defamation laws. "Disproportionate application of these laws may have a chilling effect and restrict freedom of expression and information," they said at a meeting on July 4, 2012. "Governments should provide appropriate guarantees against awards for damages and interests that are disproportionate to the actual injury."
The Committee of Ministers is the Council's top executive body and is comprised of the foreign ministers of the 47 member states or their deputies. Although its declarations have no binding force, they are an indication of where the Council of Europe's member states stand on an issue.