On 23 July, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv (Ukraine) ruled to block access to 17 online media, including news portals and bloggers platforms korrespondent.net, enigma.ua, trident-ua.info, and informator.news. The owners of the closed websites have lodged an appeal. Their lawyers have denounced the delaying tactics that have so far prevented the appeal court from ruling.
The court justified the closure of these news websites by the fact that they disseminate texts relating to slander or defamation. The judgment requires to restrict access not only to potentially harmful material, but to the entire content of these website.
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) denounced the disproportionate nature of this court decision. “Blocking online media is a blatant violation of national law; it violates international standards on freedom of speech,” said Sergiy Tomilenko, NUJU President.
“I am very concerned that a number of online information sources are unexpectedly blocked in Ukraine. Even more troubling is the fact that publishers are unable to defend their rights in appeal proceedings, due to the delaying tactics of some judges and prosecutors. Such judgments have a very negative impact on the level of freedom of expression in the country and on the country’s image on the world stage,” added Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary. “These measures are not necessary and not proportionate. We call on Ukrainian authorities to comply with the requirements set by the European legal standards on freedom of expression.”
The EFJ denounced today these acts of censorship on the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.
Picture credit: Freenet Ukraine Coalition.