The Duty to Provide a Favourable Environment for Freedom of Expression
Module 10: Violence Against Journalists
States have a duty to promote a favourable environment for freedom of expression. On the one hand, this means avoiding taking actions which harm or interfere with the exercise of the right (“negative obligations”). On the other, it also encompasses positive obligations to promote and protect freedom of expression.
International human rights treaties generally impose obligations on State Parties to adopt laws or other measures necessary to give effect to the rights in the Covenant. These may include “legislative, judicial, administrative, educative and other appropriate measures”.(1) States also have certain obligations to protect people from acts by private parties which harm their enjoyment of human rights. States are not fully responsible for the acts of third parties, but they must not fail to respond appropriately in the face of rights violations, including to “exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities.”(2)
In the context of the right to freedom of expression, creating an enabling environment for freedom of expression requires States to take a range of actions, such as promoting media diversity and guaranteeing access to information. In addition, States should take steps to ensure that those who exercise their right to freedom of expression are not subject to retaliation for doing so, including violent attacks or other threats.(3)