Participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship” demanded from top officials to guarantee the unhampered work of journalists during the election campaign-2004
The Forum was held on 10 November in Kyiv. Journalists from all regions of Ukraine and from abroad, MPs, representatives of foreign diplomatic missions, lawyers and law-enforcers, as well as representatives of power organs, took part in the Forum. The action was organized by the Public Council in charge of the freedom of speech and information, National Union of journalists of Ukraine, Kyiv independent media trade union, Independent Association of TV and radio broadcasters jointly with the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information. The financial support was rendered by the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”.
Resolution of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”
We, participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”, emphasize the necessity of guaranteeing the independent and unhampered work of mass media and journalists during the pre-election period, elimination of all legal, administrative, economic and organizational obstacles concerning the elucidation of the Presidential election campaign-2004. We are aware of the precarious situation connected with the protection of journalists from violence, intimidation and other forms of impediment to their professional activities, so we want to draw the attention of the organs of state power and local self-government to the necessity of observance of the constitutional principles of the freedom of speech and information. We corroborate the conclusions and propositions stated in the Resolution of the Forum of journalists of Ukraine “Legal self-protection” of 10 June 2003, in particular, concerning the violation by the state organs of the Ukrainian laws in the sphere of the protection of journalists from pressure, persecutions, ungrounded court cases, censorship and other forms of impediment to their professional activities. Thus, we RESOLVED to turn to state agencies with the following propositions:
1) To the Supreme Rada of Ukraine:
- to consider and adopt, before 1 January 2004 (the date, when the new Civil Code of Ukraine will come into force), the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On introduction of changes into the Civil and Civil-Procedural Codes of Ukraine (concerning the right for information)” (registration No. 3547), which would be directed to the elimination of drawbacks of the adopted Code;
- to reject the drafts of the Laws of Ukraine “On introduction of changes into some legal acts of Ukraine” (in the sphere of state secrets) (registration No. 2663), “On monitoring of telecommunications” (registration No. 4042) and “On the activities in the sphere of informatization” (registration No. 3038), since these laws endanger the activities of journalists, as well as free circulation and use of electronic information;
- to regulate more clearly and completely the activities of mass media during the Presidential election campaigns by introduction of changes into the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”;
- to regulate legislatively the status and authorities of ombudspersons representative in charge of the freedom of speech and mass media.
2) To the President of Ukraine:
- to put an end to the application by Presidents Administration of the illegal methods of influence on mass media and journalists, in particular, distribution among the leaders of mass media of oral and written instruction concerning the representation of information, contents of informational messages and comments concerning the current events and problems.
3) To the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine:
- to take the appropriate measures for the unhampered access to information needed by journalists for the fulfillment of their professional duty connected with the thorough elucidation of the election campaign-2004;
- to take the appropriate measures for termination of checks conducted by the proper state organs and agencies for the period from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2005;
- to take the appropriate measures for prevention of the illegal closure of mass media or impediment to their activities, in particular in the sphere of publication and distribution of printed mass media.
4) To the Supreme Court of Ukraine:
- to generalize the practices of consideration by courts of the claims on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation handed against mass media and/or journalists, taking into account the last amendments to the Ukrainian legislation and the corresponding practices of the European Court of human rights.
5) To the ombudsperson:
- to guarantee the transparency and openness of the process of the appointment of candidates to the post of Representative in charge of the freedom of speech and mass media, to take into account the position of public organizations and mass media regarding the candidates to this post.
6) To the Ministry of Interior and General Prosecutors office of Ukraine:
- to inform the public, at the Plenary sitting of the Supreme Rada, about the results of investigation of the cases of using violence against journalists, in particular, the cases of Georgiy Gongadze and Igor Aleksandrov;
- to take measures for prevention of the cases of applying violence against journalists, to carry out the efficient and thorough investigation of such facts, to bring the guilty to responsibility.
7) To the State Tax Administration of Ukraine:
- to introduce the moratorium for the conduction of any tax checks of mass media for the period from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2005.
Principles of the activities of mass media during the pre-election period
We, owners, managers, editors and journalists of Ukrainian mass media, are realizing the important role of mass media in guaranteeing of free and conscious expression of the will of citizens, understanding our responsibility for the unbiased elucidation of the Presidential election campaign-2004, confirming our devotion to the provisions of the Declaration of the principles of behavior of journalists adopted in 1954 by the International Federation of journalists and to the Ethic Code of Ukrainian journalists adopted on 14 April 2002 by the Congress of journalists. So, we voluntarily assume the obligation to adhere the following principles of work during the election campaign-2004. We undertake:
1. Owners and managers of mass media:
- to guarantee the creation and distribution of the programs providing the discussions of participants of the election process in the regime of direct broadcasting;
- not to interfere into the editorial policy and not to restrict the creative freedom of journalists;
- to abstain from the actions, which would result in the violation of the rules mentioned below.
2. Editors and journalists of mass media:
- to have respect for private life of the participants of election campaign and to distribute the information about the private life of these persons only if this information is of the considerable public interest and is necessary for forming the opinion about the candidate to Presidents post;
- not to publish the groundless accusations and inauthentic statements, which discredit the honor and dignity of the participants of election campaign;
- to separate the informational and analytical materials concerning the pre-election events from the political advertising, and the evaluative judgments and assumptions – from facts;
- not to ignore the facts of violation of legal rights of other journalists and mass media, to express actively the solidarity with them.
Participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”, 10 November 2003
("Svoboda slova. Poltavshchina", electronic bulletin of the Poltava oblast media club, No. 54, 12 November 2003, [email protected] )