EU Adopts Freedom of Expression Guidelines as US Constitutional Erosion Continues

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Courtesy: Håkan Dahlström

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 7 June 2014

While the First Amendment of the US Constitution is under attack across the pond, the Council of the European Union (EU) in Brussels have recently adopted the 'Guidelines on Freedom of Expression - Online-Offline' for its twenty-seven member states.

On Monday 12 May the EU Council in Brussels issued comprehensive guidelines for EU citizens on their right of 'Freedom of Expression', both online and offline, as the Obama regime continued to trample over similar rights enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the US.

The fact that these guidelines were issued after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had pronounced on a European Digital Habeas Corpus and at the same time as its ruling on Internet Search Engines is no coincidence. The EU is simply supplanting the legislature of the intransigent and despotic regimes within its borders.

Naturally, there was no mention of this important addition to the EU's Human Rights Guidelines in the MSM who are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance and Selective Visual Perception, only the non-MSM carried the news. Thus, in the absence of responsible journalism, the two key paragraphs from the press release are:

These freedoms are essential for the fulfilment and enjoyment of a wide range of other human rights, including freedom of association and assembly, freedom of thought, religion or belief, the right to education, the right to take part in cultural life, the right to vote and all other political rights related to participation in public affairs.
Freedom of opinion and expression should be seen both individually, as a means of promoting an individual's self-fulfilment and autonomy as well as collectively, in the context of a free, diverse and independent media. Without freedom of expression and freedom of the media, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible.

However, it should be noted that these guidelines are building on, and extending those already adopted on 18 December 2013 by the United Nations (UN) as defined in the Resolution of the General Assembly on Journalist Safety 68/163 and published on the 21 February 2014.

Furthermore, the guidelines are far from perfect and their implementation will be particularly challenged by the despotic regime in the UK, although it should be noted that academia in Britain has taken a more pragmatic view of their release.

Nonetheless, what is interesting about the EU guidelines is its understanding of the work of journalists, "citizen journalists", bloggers, social media activists and human rights defenders:

Journalists’ work in uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption and questioning received opinion often put them at specific risk of intimidation and violence. Such attacks and intimidation – often accompanied by a refusal by State authorities to effectively investigate and end impunity for such acts - represent an attack not only on the victim, but may also limit the ability of the public to receive information and ideas. Efforts to protect journalists should not be limited to those formally recognised as such, but should also cover support staff and others, such as citizen journalists, bloggers, social media activists and human rights defenders, who use new media to reach a mass audience. Efforts to end impunity for crimes against journalists and other media actors must be associated with the protection and defence of human rights defenders. (Page 2, Para 5)

Clearly this is tacit recognition of the failure of the MSM and the value of other media sources in supporting democracy. Furthermore, on the issue of government access to personal data:

Unlawful or arbitrary government or private company access to personal data can have a negative impact on freedom of expression as individuals may be less likely to use electronic communication technologies. (Page 18, Para 7)

Again, recognition of the deleterious effect on the freedom of expression of citizens by governments and corporatists alike.

In essence, these guidelines are not perfect and their implementation will present a serious challenge to regime and corporate vested interests within the EU. In comparison, the US have been mired in congressional gridlock and suffered constitutional erosion for years. They are going no where, fast.

Once again, the EU has taken another step in the right direction and moving forward in upholding democracy for its citizens,unlike the US who are clearly stuck in reverse.

It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.
Bertrand Russell