Stop Pressure on Journalists, Prevent Repressive Measures
The following statement from the Civic Movement “Stop Censorship!” was agreed today, 21 May 2010, at a meeting of media representatives in Kyiv. The Movement’s objectives can be endorsed here: http://www.telekritika.ua/forma.php?id=53128
We as journalists of Ukraine announce the beginning of a Civic Movement “Stop Censorship!”
This is an initiative by Ukrainian journalists and media organizations aimed at upholding freedom of speech and preventing the imposition of censorship in Ukraine, obstruction of journalists in their professional activities and infringements of professional standards in covering social and political issues.
The Movement “Stop Censorship!” is a response to a number of events which give grounds for asserting that there has been an increase in pressure and attempts to impose censorship in the Ukrainian media. These include:
- Systematic ignoring by State bodies of formal information requests;
- Open letters from journalists of the central TV channels «1+1» and STB against interference in editorial policy, with examples of such interference provided;
- The failure to act by police officers who witnessed brutal treatment by security guards of journalists from Novy Kanal during the events in the Ukrainian House in Kyiv
- The lack of punishment for the official and head of the Department of the Mayor’s Office who flagrantly obstructed journalists from STB carrying out their professional activities;
- A slanted readjustment of the makeup of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, as well as pressure on this Council by the SBU [Security Service], the Head of which has private interests in the decisions of the Council;
- the dissolution of the National Commission on Freedom of Speech under the President.
The Movement “Stop Censorship!” is not a political initiative and does not support, nor is it supported by any political parties. Fixed membership in the Movement is envisaged of all those willing to actively participate in its activities.
The main objectives of the movement are to:
- Protect the professional, labour and civic rights of all members of the Movement, including those who signed statements issued by journalists from the TV channels “1+1” and STB;
- Counter any attempts to impose censorship in the Ukrainian media;
- Prevent all attempts to obstruct legitimate journalist activities, to put pressure on journalists to engage in self-censorship;
- Carry out a wide-scale and long-term public campaign against censorship and obstruction of journalists’ activities, involving the broadest range of civic organizations and civic activists in Ukraine and abroad;
- Monitor professional standards on television news broadcasts on all leading television channels in Ukraine;
- Provide information without delay about cases where publicly significant issues and stories are being hushed up or twisted;
- Promote self-regulation in the media sphere
We declare that any pressure, censorship or other unlawful interference in the work of Ukrainian journalists, whether from the authorities, or from media owners and top management is unacceptable.
Members of the Movement “Stop Censorship!” call on the authorities and media owners to fulfil the following demands which are vital conditions for safeguarding freedom of speech in Ukraine:
1. Put an end to pressure on journalists;
2. Do not allow repressive measures or dismissals under the guise of large-scale restructuring against those journalists who have publicly spoken of censorship or pressure and ensure that their legitimate rights are observed;
3. Change the rules for the formation and renewal of membership of editorial councils of television and radio broadcasting organizations [TRO], ensuring that journalists have a real input in them. Publish editorial charters reflecting the TRO editorial police and licence requirements for its activities;
4. Establish through legislation that television and radio broadcasting constitute publicly responsible business. Owners do not have the right to demand distortion of news, hush up information, play up to any political force or public official, or lobby their own business interests.
5. In view of the media business’ public responsibility, owners are obliged to ensure that the TRO’s information output is created by the staff of the TRO;
6. Safeguard the right of access to information. Deputies should adopt in the Verkhovna Rada and the President should sign the draft law “On access to Public Information”;
7. Support candidates for membership of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council put forward by civic organizations and supported by the journalist community;
In order to further monitor the situation in the media sphere, members of the Civic Movement “Stop Censorship!” are creating a Public Council “Stop Censorship!”. This is a temporary coordinating body for ensuring scrutiny over freedom of speech in Ukraine and prevention of censorship.
The Movement “Stop Censorship!” is open to all Ukrainian journalists, experts, analysts and members of the broad circles of society who share our values, goal and support our demands.