Journalist Ethics Commission against State Body on Morality



The Commission on Journalist Ethics has issued a statement supporting the protests from civic and journalist organizations against the creation of a National Commission for the Protection of Public Morality as a State body.

“No noble intentions can be grounds for reinstating censorship and restricting freedom of the press”, the Commission stresses.

The members of the Commission believe that the existence of a State body for regulating morality is not in keeping with international practice. “In the entire civilized world allegations of infringements of journalist ethical standards or moral norms are examined by self-regulating bodies created directly by those working in the media field. The State should be removed from such processes. Punishment for infringement of journalist ethnics cannot be in the form of a criminal or administrative offence which could lead to the journalist ending up behind bars and the media outlet closed.

“The Commission on Journalist Ethics shares concern that the level of adherence to ethical standards in the Ukrainian media is rapidly deteriorating. This pertains in the first instance to interference by the authorities in the work of the press and television, the creation of numerous manipulative projects, the overt bribery of media outlets and individual journalists. “Jeansa”, material paid for by politicians and businesspeople has become the norm for the Ukrainian media. The professional level of reports, journalist investigations and publicist articles is falling”.

The Commission on Journalist Ethics calls on colleagues to self-organize and through their own efforts to ensure that the public and individual citizens are able to receive a fair review of complaints regarding infringements of journalist ethics.

As reported, draft Law № 7132  on Amendments to the Law on the Protection of Public Morality was adopted in its first reading on 18 October.  It had been clear for some months that the dissolution of the National Expert Commission on Public Morality announced by the President in December 2010 was not to happen, however the new draft law includes all the elements already criticized here on many occasions, and more.

Statements of concern have been issued by both Ukrainian and international NGOs, for example, Stop Censorship (see the translation here), Reporters without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists  The draft law has been criticized by many, including the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council and State TV and Radio Broadcasting Council. 

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