Recent legislative amendment requires activists and journalists reporting on government corruption to file public declarations of their personal assets, Human Rights Watch said today. The new requirement is vague and could be used to deter or punish investigative journalists and partners of anti-corruption nongovernmental groups for doing their job.
“This new requirement is a slap in the face of Ukraine’s anti-corruption activists and its international partners who have been calling for a more transparent government,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The requirement conflates state officials, who have a responsibility to divulge their assets because they enjoy certain privileges of office and their work is funded by tax payers, with private citizens who report on issues of public interest.”
President Poroshenko promised to facilitate the creation of a working group to amend the signed law to exclude the new measure against activists. However, creating a working group could take time, and, meanwhile, the new amendment could have an immediate chilling effect on activists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said.
“No one is fooled by the true purpose of this amendment,” Cooper said. “President Poroshenko should urge parliament to immediately annul it. Such measures have no place in a reform-minded government.”