The Committee of Ministers adopted its CM/Rec(2016)4 Recommendation on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors in 2016. The Recommendation has four pillars: (i) prevention, (ii) protection, (iii) prosecution, and (iv) promotion of information, education and awareness-raising.

  1. Name a measure that states could take for each of the four pillars.
  2. Name a measure that internet intermediaries (online platforms) and/or media organisations could take to contribute to the aims of three of the pillars.
  3. What are the most important legal and political instruments that govern the protection and safety of journalists and media actors and how do they relate to each other?
  4. Which key principles can be distilled from the European Court of Human Rights’ case-law on the safety of journalists and media actors? Name the judgments in which the principles you have identified are developed.


  • Name three effects that threats, harassment and attacks can have on journalists and media actors and explain in your own words how these effects are connected to the deterioration of pluralistic public debate. Explain the term “chilling effect” in your answer.


  • Name the four underlying factors contributing to threats, harassment and attacks against women journalists and media actors who identify as members of minority and marginalised communities that are explained in the video and discuss how these factors affect the safety of these groups of journalists online.

Exercise [a higher cognitive level assignment with strategic-thinking and negotiation components]

Instruct participants to find a case about a journalist or media actor who was threatened, harassed or (physically) attacked in their own (or in an assigned) country. They should gather as much relevant information about the case as possible through news articles, NGO reporting, existing monitoring mechanisms, etc. They should make a brief summary of the facts.

Divide participants into three teams representing the interests of the different actors/stakeholders involved in the case: the journalist/media actor (and their lawyers); the State; a relevant NGO. Using the Council of Europe’s regulatory and policy framework for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, prepare answers to the assigned questions from the perspectives of the different teams.

 Represented interestsQuestions
AJournalist/media actor and their lawyersHas the journalist’s right to safety and protection been violated?
BState authoritiesHave all branches of the State authorities fulfilled their positive obligation to guarantee a safe environment for the journalist/media actor?
CNGO defending freedom of expression, journalists and the mediaWhat are the broader implications of this case for the safety and protection of journalists and other media actors?

Give the teams an appropriate amount of time to prepare their answers to the assigned questions. Then revert to a plenary discussion and negotiate – in a cooperative spirit among all parties – a strategy for follow-up to the case to ensure that the rights, safety and protection of the journalist/media actor are effectively guaranteed in practice. The negotiated strategy should pay appropriate attention to gender-related and/or other forms of discrimination and issues relating to (digital) security.