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15.12.2003

Kherson journalist protected their right for the freedom of speech and the right of their readers to obtain the information from mass media.

   

Kherson journalist protected their right for the freedom of speech and the right of their readers to obtain the information from mass media

We want to remind: in July Alena Rotona, the vice-mayor of Kherson, handed a claim against the weekly «VIK» about the compensation of the damage inflicted to her honor and business reputation by the publications in the newspaper. The demanded sum was 15 thousand hryvnas. The vice-mayor also asked the court to prohibit to the weekly to publish any information about her until the court decision would be taken.

Aleksandr Golovko, a judge of the Suvorovskiy local court, «for guaranteeing the objectivity of court», issued the decision: «To prohibit to the company »VIK’… and other persons to publish in mass media any information on the activities of A. Rotova, … on the violation by her of the demands of the Constitution and Laws of Ukraine until the court decision would be taken«. So, the judge prohibited to ALL mass media of Ukraine to spread the information about the violation of laws by an OFFICIAL.

The editorial board of «VIK» handed the complaint against the decision of judge Golovko to the appeal court.

Besides, the fact that it was prohibited «to other persons» to write about the violations of the Constitution and Ukrainian laws exasperated many local journalists. The Kherson town association of journalists «Pivden» proposed the legal aid to all representatives of the «fourth power», who were going to fight for their right for the freedom of speech in court. As a result, 23 correspondents of local editions appealed against the court decision to the higher instance.

On 4 December the Appeal Court of the Kherson oblast expressed its attitude to the actions of judge A. Golovko: «The conclusion of the court… about the prohibition of the publications, connected with the case, by the defendants and other persons contradicts the demands of Articles 149 and 152 of the CPC of Ukraine». In other words judge Golovko applied «not proper» articles of the Civil-Procedural Code.

The appeal instance also pointed out the fact that the judge of the local court had no right to prohibit anything to the persons, HAD NO CONCERN with the court proceedings between the vice-mayor and the company «VIK».

«Along with the defendants, the court prohibited to spread any information about the activities of the plaintiff to other persons, but did not determine the circle of these persons. So, the court exceeded the limits of the controversial legal relationships, reads the resolution of the Appeal court.

Thus, the Appeal court made the judge «to return into the limits» and gave the journalists the right to spread the information about the violation of laws by the official. After all, the freedom of speech is regarded as one of the most important valuables in a democratic society, because it gives the opportunity to the society to control the activities of the power. Citizens have the right to know, what the power does, whether it observes laws, and for what the taxes are spent. And the professional duty of journalists is to collect and spread the information.

It should be noted that the Kherson journalist have never been so solidary in protecting their rights in court. That became possible thanks to the project «Legal aid to journalists of the Kherson oblast» realized by the Kherson town association of journalists «Pivden». The project was endorsed by the department of education and mass media at the US Embassy in Ukraine.

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