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17.05.2010

Yet another attempt to criminalize defamation

   

National Deputy Vasyl Kiselyov (formerly Party of the Regions, now independent) has tabled a draft law on amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code on establishing criminal liability for defamation. This would carry a fine of up to 850 UAH (just over 100 USD), community work for 200 hours, or corrective work for a year.

Defamation is defined as the “circulation of knowingly untruthful stories which slander other person”.  The penalties are higher where the defamation was in print or other widely circulated form, in an anonymous letter, as well as if it was a repeat offence.

“Defamation combined with a charge of carrying out a crime against the foundations of national security or another grave or especially grave crime, shall be punishable by corrective work from one to two years, or restriction of liberty for up to two years”.

In the explanatory note, Mr Kiselyov asserts that since criminal liability was removed, there has been an increase in the number of cases where individuals, including public officials (National Deputies) have used parliament or the media to spread knowingly false information.

Criminal liability for defamation was removed from the new Criminal Code of 2001. since that time there have been a number of attempts, including by Mr Kiselyov earlier, to have it restored. Mr Kiselyov’s last draft law was rejected by a majority of factions in 2006. In 2008 a National Deputy from BYuT [Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc) recommended restoring criminal liability, but the Supreme Court in its recommendations came out against this.

It is to be hoped that this draft law will be rejected like its predecessors, however given the remarks made by National Deputy Olena Bondarenko regarding responsible journalism and liability for reporting lies (cf. A Managed Version of Freedom of Speech at khpg.org/index.php?id=1272964731), constant calls from the President and others for “constructive opposition”, there would seem grounds for concern.

Information from a report at http://www.telekritika.ua/news/2010-05-17/52990

 

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