Violations of European Convention during search of Glavnoye editorial office
At a press conference on Monday, 11 July, Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group stated that the search carried out by law enforcement officers wearing masks of the offices of the newspaper Glavnoye had violated three articles of the European Convention.
He said that as soon as the officers saw that this was an editorial office, they should have apologized and left, without disturbing the journalists. Instead they behaved quite differently.
He said that even though it was not formally registered, one can call what happened unlawful detention. Whether or not the police considered they were detaining the journalists, international law states that a person is detained if he cannot leave of his own free will. The journalists, as reported, were kept in the editorial office and prevented from leaving. “In the given case one sees a violation of Article 5 of the European Convention which protects from arbitrary arrest and detention”.
He said that the journalists could appeal against this detention and later make an application to the European Court of Human Rights.
The fact that they had not been given food or medication was a violation also of Article 3, prohibiting torture and all forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. While torture of course was not involved, he continued, one could talk of inhuman behaviour, and said that there have been precedents at the European Court for such behaviour being deemed inhuman or degrading.
Interference in journalists’ work and disruption of publication of the latest issue of the newspaper was a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
Form the point of view of Ukrainian legislation, Zakharov pointed out, one could speak of a violation of Article 171 of the Criminal Code. – deliberate interference in the professional work of journalists. If intent could be proven then this article could be applied. He did however add that in such cases it is extremely difficult to prove intent. He said that in all the years that this article had been in force, KHPG was aware of only one court sentence having been passed although there are many applications claiming its violation.
It was also announced on Monday that security guards had found eavesdropping devices at the same building which houses not only the Glavnoye editorial office, the Basis Bank and the company Investor, but also the regional branch of the Batkivshchyna Party (Yulia Tymoshenko’s party). This comes soon after the search carried out on Friday of all the offices despite the fact that the police had a warrant only to search the premises of Investor.