The independent organisation 'Reporters without Borders' has written to the United Nations, on the day that the UN Human Rights Council is meeting to review the situation in Ukraine, voicing their concerns about a worsening lack of respect for media freedom.

The letter says that the situation has deteriorated in the last six months, with six journalists subject to violent attacks, one of whom - Volodymyr Honcharenko, journalist and environmental activist - died shortly after reporting on illegal dumping of chemical and radioactive waste in the river Dnipro near Kryviy Rih. Assaults on journalists have risen during the election campaign, with several being threatened and some prevented from attending political meetings. Other journalists have resigned rather than submit to pressure to favour a particular political party.

Independent media have been harassed: the magazine 'Tyzhden' has been excluded from certain distribution networks after publishing an article about how the press is controlled by the state and a small number of oligarchs; while the website 'Mayesh Pravo Znaty' (You have the right to know) was dropped by its web provider for covering political issues.

The report says,

"Although Ukraine has just refrained from criminalizing defamation at the last minute, freedom of information is in great danger. The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the frequent violence against journalists has created a climate of intimidation that encourages censorship, while the media landscape’s growing polarization in the run-up to the elections is exacerbating the tension.

"It is essential that the Human Rights Council’s members remind Ukraine of recommendation No. 27, which it undertook to implement in 2008 and which has become a dead letter. The council said that it was high time that the government took ’all measures necessary to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists be investigated and that appropriate punishments are meted out.’

"Six journalists have been the victims grave acts of violence in the past three months and one of them died. No fewer than 25 other journalists have been prevented from working in a more or less violent manner and nine others have been clearly intimidated."

To read the letter in full, click here.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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