Independent Media Union also against draft Morality Act
Ukraine’s Independent Media Union has spoken out against the draft bill proposing amendments to the Law on the Protection of Public Morality [the Morality Act]. In its statement, it says that it would be unacceptable to re-establish any bodies of censorship and State propaganda machines.
The Union is convinced that the amendments, passed in their first reading on 18 October, “will inevitably result in the reinstatement of totalitarian control over the outlook of Ukrainian citizens, impede free thinking. The loss of independence of media outlets, control over the activities of journalists under the guise of monitoring of their compliance with the criteria of “public morality”, the constant threat that any publications, TV or radio company or website can be eliminated, these are only the least of the risks which the passing of this draft bill carry”.
The Union believes that MPs, while proclaiming a struggle for the moral health of society, would be creating dangerous conditions where, under the guise of a National Commission for the Protection of Public Morality, a state body would effectively be created which in its functions would be analogous to a ministry of propaganda.
It points out that according to Articles 14 and 15 of the draft law, “propaganda material” recommended by the National Commission would have to be circulated in all educational institutions regardless of their form of ownership or which department they are subordinate to.
The Independent Media Union calls on MPs to reject or withdraw draft Law No. 7132 and not allow the creation of a State body of censorship and propaganda under the guise of a National Morality Commission.
“We agree that journalists bear responsibility for their every word, however this responsibility gives us the moral right to fight for our professional and civil liberties”.
Protests against the proposed amendments have been expressed by Stop Censorship (see the translation here), Reporters without Borders, International Federation of Journalists , as well as by Ukraine’s National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council.
The Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Lytvyn has also said that certain “objectionable norms” in the bill should be removed.