Threat of censorship masked as protecting public morality
The civic movement Stop Censorship has issued a statement warning that censorship could be introduced in Ukraine under the guise of protection of public morality. Stop Censorship is gathering signatures against the draft law passed in its first reading on 14 October (see Parliament supports new version of Public Morality Act). It is convinced that if this law is adopted, a particularly powerful instrument for censorship could appear.
Stop Censorship is therefore calling on journalists to unite in protest and on National Deputies to not support the draft law. It asks people to write to [email protected] giving their name and the media outlet or civic organization that they belong to.
“The undersigned Ukrainian journalists express strong protest against the draft Law on the Protection of Public Morality which the Verkhovna Rada passed in its first reading on 14 October.
Adoption of this law could result in the emergence of a particularly powerful instrument for censorship. Under the guise of protection of public morality the draft law provides techniques which could make it possible to close any Ukrainian media outlet or online resource, as well as restricting access by Ukrainians to foreign websites.
Furthermore, the rules foisted by this drat law and the fairly considerable sanctions envisaged are unacceptable for a democratic country. If the law is passed it will have serious consequences for freedom of speech in Ukraine and place it once and for all on the same level as countries like Belarus and Kazakhstan.
We express opposition to this draft law, the adoption of which would mean the creation at legislative level of a body of control over the media which can be very easily used for pressure, censorship, repression, as well as to restrict citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of speech and information.
We do however call on the existing bodies with relevant authority to pay more attention to their duties to protect minors from alcohol and cigarette advertising; to protect people from being drawn into prostitution or child pornography, violence, cruelty, etc.
We call on our colleagues – Ukrainian journalists – to join in protest against this new instrument for censorship and provide maximum coverage of this subject and its possible consequences. Only our joint and decisive reaction can prevent the introduction of this powerful weapon of control over the media.
We also call on National Deputies to not vote for this draft law.
Morality must not become an instrument for censorship and restriction of the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression.