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In Zaporizhzhia, local councils promised to secure for journalists equal access to their mass media

As a part of the study «Council that is friendly to media», the NGO «Institute of mass information » (IMI) developed recommendations to the standing orders of Zaporizhzhia city and Zaporizka oblast councils in the part that is related to securing the rights of the journalists.

Zaporizhzhia city and Zaporizka oblast councils will consider, at their plenary sessions in December, the relevant drafts on amendment of their standing orders.

This was reported by the regional representative of IMI in Zaporizka oblast Kateryna Maiboroda after her meeting with the officials.

The IMI representative met the head of the standing commission on the issues of lawfulness, combating corruption, standing orders of council members activities and council members ethics, human rights, freedom of press and information of Zaporizka oblast council, Iryna Vyshniakova to discuss the recommendations of IMI experts.

«I personally support it and I think my colleagues will show solidarity with me. When adopting the standing order of Zaporizka oblast council, we, first of all, selected the road of openness and transparency of the council, and engagement of the public to these processes. Adherence to these principles increases the level of trust to the council and is a definitive feature for a democratic state. When developing the provisions of the standing order regarding, in particular, the number of representatives – not more than 2 people from the same media outlet, which IMI takes as setting certain limitations, we were guided by technical capabilities of the assembly hall to contain all those who wish to participate in the assembly sessions. But the two years of practice of people visiting during two years of our cadence allows to draw the conclusion that this problem in fact does not exist. So we will hope that in case of adoption of such changes, the situation will not change and all who wish will be able to participate in the work of the council», Iryna Vyshniakova said.

Before, IMI experts found several violations of the Law of Ukraine “On Information”, including provision that can be construed as permission to cover council sessions by local mass media only, limitation on number of representatives of the same media outlet allowed to be present at the sessions (not more than 2), and a provision that allows to expel a mass media representative “who abused their rights and failed to comply with obligations”, which can be construed as a permission to expel any mass media representative for offences not related to the session work per se. Also, the procedure of accreditation for journalists is not described in the standing order or in any associated document. The standing order of Zaporizhzhia city council also has similar drawbacks – and also, some other restrictive provisions that discriminate freelance journalists (a journalist needs to have an official ID from their media outlet to be present at the session).

On November 21, at the session of the standing commission for standing order, other members of the commission also agreed with IMI recommendations.

IMI representative Kateryna Maiboroda discussed the recommendations with the secretary of the city council Ruslan Pydorych. The secretary partly agreed with IMI recommendations, and transferred them for consideration of the city council  commission for standing order.

At the session on November 8, the members of the standing commission of Zaporizhzhia city council agreed with the recommendations of IMI experts and promised to take them into account when preparing amendments for the standing order of the city council.

As IMI reported before, on October 5, 2017 in Kyiv, the NGO «Institute of Mass Information » presented the results of the study «Media friendly council: evaluation of adherence to the LAw of Ukraine “On information” in the standing orders of local councils».

The research was implemented under IMI project «Ukrainian bloggers against corruption», supported by Freedom House. Under this project, IMI experts analyzed the standing orders of 47 oblast and city councils regarding journalist rights and adherence to the law “On information”. The study showed that one third of the councils (17 of them) violate the requirements of existing laws regarding journalist rights. IMI experts developed recommendations to mend the situations.

Local IMI representatives will oversee the implementation of the IMI experts’ recommendations.

IMI

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