Parliament rejects new law on public morality


  The Verkhovna Rada on Thursday voted to withdraw from consideration a draft Law on the Protection of Public Morality. The draft bill had been criticized by media and civic organizations.

Draft Law № 7132 on amendments to the Law on the Protection of Public Morality envisaged the creation of a special collegiate State body for “the affirmation of morality in society”.  It was to be called the National Commission of Ukraine on the Protection of Public Morality, differing in name from the present body which is called the National Expert Commission.

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 2011.  It appeared that the dissolution of the National Expert Commission on Public Morality announced by the President in December 2010 was not to happen.  Moreover the new draft law included seriously broadened powers leading to statements of concern from 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 was criticized by many, including the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council and State TV and Radio Broadcasting Council.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union issued an appeal to the members of the Committee on Freedom of Speech to ask parliament to reject the draft bill  It stated: “In its present form this draft law is in breach of provisions of Ukraine’s Constitution, restricts human rights and freedoms, introduces censorship of the Internet and obliges providers without even a court order to block content which the National Commission for the Protection of Public Morality may consider harmful to public morality”

The parliamentary committee did recommend that the bill be rejected.

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