European Federation of Journalists

Ukraine: IFJ/EFJ call on all political parties to commit to defending freedom of speech

On the eve of Ukraine’s July 21 extraordinary parliamentary elections, the International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) have backed the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine’s (NUJU) call on all political parties to sign a Declaration on the Defense of Freedom of Speech.

The Declaration was prepared by Ukrainian journalists and experts from the International and European Federation of Journalists and comprises a list of obligations and commitments on freedom of speech, the protection of journalists’ rights and the fight against impunity.

The text includes the following seven principles:

  1. Respect for freedom of speech and expression.
  2. Do not take any action that illegally restricts these freedoms. Publicly condemn attempts to do so.
  3. Do not interfere in journalistic work; do not put pressure on journalists and the media.
  4. Do not use security forces to prosecute journalists. The persecution of journalists for their work is inadmissible.
  5. Annual public law enforcement reports on the results of investigations on crimes against journalists and the fight against impunity.
  6. Respect for the journalists’ work; do not divide the journalists into “loyal” and “bad”; do not put labels and do not  encourage hostility.
  7. Respect current laws in the field of freedom of expression; legislative innovations must be agreed with the journalistic community and the media within broad consultations.

The document has been signed so far by the leaders of nine political parties, including Dmytro Razumkov, the leader of the current ruling party in Ukraine. It has been also supported by several influential political leaders such as the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko or the current Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

NUJU’s president, Sergiy Tomilenko, said: “This document is a commitment to protect freedom of speech and should be endorsed by responsible Ukrainian politicians. We don`t know which political coalition will be in the new parliament. However, we know that the absolute majority of new deputies will have signed up to protect the freedom of speech and the rights of journalists. Hostility towards the media, labelling and ignoring crimes against journalists must be part of the past”.

NUJU believes that systemic impunity, physical attacks on the journalists and open hostility towards the media from the politicians are among the main challenges for media workers in Ukraine. Proof of this is that it recorded 86 attacks against media workers in Ukraine during 2018.

Photo Credits: NUJU