Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic has said that media freedom must not be jeopardized by the measures governments take to suppress disinformation related to the pandemic of the novel coronavirus.
In a written statement on April 3, Mijatovic said that during the pandemic governments were undoubtedly facing unprecedented challenges, but that this could not be an excuse for cracking down on the media and consequently limiting citizens' access to information.
"In the Czech Republic, Serbia and Italy, there have been reports of cases of journalists who were prevented from attending press conferences, obtaining information from health authorities or documenting the operations of law enforcement officials," wrote Mijatovic.
Decrees and legislative proposals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, aimed at punishing the circulation of information that can cause panic, run the risk of limiting the work of journalists and freedom of expression on social media, said the commissioner for human rights.
She called on all Council of Europe member states to preserve media freedom and "ensure that measures to combat disinformation are necessary, proportionate and subject to regular oversight, including by Parliament and national human rights institutions."