Morality Commission wants the power to close newspapers and journals
The National Expert Commission for the Protection of Public Morality [the Commission] wants to refine the legal mechanism for preventing circulation and sale of printed material infringing the Law on the Protection of Public Morality. The issue was considered at its meeting on 30 August.
According to the Head of the Commission, Vasyl Kostytsky, administrative and civil-legal sanctions for violations in this area are not presently defined by the law. The Single State Register of Court Rulings does not contain information about court practice on this issue. Mr Kostytsky believes that the lack of such sanctions “deprives the State of the possibility of reacting in a timely and effective manner to violations in this sphere and of preventing them occurring”.
The Commission has drawn up a draft law on amendments to the above-mentioned Law envisaging the cessation of issue of the offending media outlet, and also prohibition on sale of published material which “harms public morality” carried out by court ruling. Mr. Kostytsky asserts that “In future it would be expedient to give the Commission the power to submit (initiate) applications to the court to have the issue of a printed outlet stopped, and sale of publishing material used for circulating information with violation of the requirements, and to clearly delineate the powers of bodies carrying out supervision in this field” He thinks it would also be advisible to stipulate the need for re-registration of a printed media outlet if the latter changes its form or purpose.
He says that none of the authorities are able to prevent offences in the publishing field. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 802 criminal investigations have been initiated under Article 300 of the Criminal Code (import, preparation or circulation of works propagating the cult of violence and cruelty) and Article 301 (import, preparation or circulation of pornographic items). In 2010 the police have removed 130 printed publications prohibited from circulation in Ukraine.
The proposals were supported by the Head of the Association of Book Publishers, Oleksandr Afonin, although the activities of the Commission in general were opposed by the Head of the Ukrainian Association of Periodic Press Publishers, Oleksandr Antonets.
Members of the Commission supported the additions to legislation proposed by Mr Kostytsky and decided to place information on the website about a legal mechanism for preventing the sale in Ukraine of such material and to hold a conference on the subject.
From a report at: www.telekritika.ua