Location Ukraine Ukraine

National Journalist League of Ukraine is concerned about the safety of its members

On November 1, the National Journalist League of Ukraine held public hearings on the physical safety of journalists and crimes against the media and their workers. The hearings were timed to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Chairman of the Journalist League of Ukraine Sergey Tomilenko noted that the Parliament of Ukraine has ignored the discussion of such issues for two years, and meanwhile the situation with the physical safety of journalists has become extraordinary.

«In the first nine months of this year, 64 cases of use of force against journalists were recorded. In general, since the beginning of 2017, we have recorded 143 incidents. For each of these cases, we sent official requests to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine. Now we have received the information that out of 143 cases of using force against journalists only 14 cases were submitted to the court, less than 10 percent, — the chairman of the NJLU notes, — there are serious comments on the quality of the pretrial investigations and, even today, we cannot name a single journalist’s name, in the case of which the attackers were adequately punished.»

Valery Ivanov, President of the Academy of Ukrainian Press, noted that the situation with the physical security of journalists in Ukraine is critical: «Now journalists feel more in danger than under previous authorities.»

At the same time, according to Valery Ivanov, part of the blame for the situation lies with the journalists themselves. He noted typical tendencies for Ukraine to harass opposition journalists from their colleagues, who consider themselves to be fighters of the nation and state: «Dividing journalists into «ours», «right» and «wrong» leads to a split of the profession and incitement in the society of negative attitudes towards some media or individual journalists. Allegedly, some media are “correct” because they are patriotic, and others are “bad” because they support the hostile side,” — Valery Ivanov says. “But patriotism is not a profession. The duty of a journalist is to inform the public, and not to make senseless provocations. And in the fight against impunity a significant role is played by the solidarity of colleagues, the support of journalists who were in trouble, were subjected to physical impact.”

Journalists from central and regional media, representatives of international organizations of Freedom House, the United Nations Monitoring Mission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and some MPs also attended the public hearings on the “Physical Security of Journalists and Freedom of Speech in Ukraine”, representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine also came. Significant parts of the audience in the NJLU were journalists, who at one time suffered on their professional duties. Within the framework of public hearings, the resolution “Punish the offenders of journalists” was adopted.

Meanwhile repression against journalists and opposition bloggers continue. The same day Kherson City Court extended the term of detention of the head of RIA Novosti-Ukraine, Kirill Vyshinsky, until December 28, 2018. Many observers believe Vyshinsky was arrested merely as a hostage for future exchanges by political prisoners between Ukraine and Russia.

On October 25, when preparations were being made for the hearings in the journalists’ league, the SBU officers, under the procedural guidance of the prosecutor’s office, arrested a resident of Odessa for posts in social networks. According to the special services, he allegedly distributed on the Internet «anti-Ukrainian» and separatist materials.

On August 23, the SBU immediately arrested eight people in Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr regions with similar charges. And on May 29, the SBU arrested a woman from Odessa with similar charges.

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