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Media Movement stands up for protection of Novoe Vremya’s sources of information - Statement

20.02.2019, 12:24
Photo : We, members of the Media Movement, express our concern over the threat of disclosure of sources of information at the edition “Novoe vremya” and the journalist Ivan Verstyuk. We consider the respective actions of the General prosecutor’s office of the Pechersk district court as violation of freedom of speech and the journalists’ right to protect their sources of information. On February 4th, the judge of Pechersk district court in Kyiv Volodymyr Korban issued a separate resolution that provided the General prosecutor’s office with an access to several internal documents of the editorial board of the Novoe Vremya and to all documents that the journalist Ivan Verstyuk had sent to the editorial board’s e-mails. The edition was informed of it on February 13th. If the Novoe Vremya fails to provide with the information that the investigator officers requested, the editorial office is to be searched. The journalist Ivan Verstyuk, author of a number of high profile investigations, in particular on corruption in the defense purchases. We should remind, in conformity to the paragraph 3rd of the article 25 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, the journalist has right not to disclose the source of information or any information which allows to disclose the source of information, except the cases when the journalist is committed to do it by decision of the judge on the ground of the law. In conformity to the trial jurisdiction of the European court on human rights, the judge is enabled to adopt the decisions on disclosure of the journalistic sources of information or on access to the journalist’s correspondence or other his materials solely in an extreme case and if all others means have been exhausted. Instead of it, we observe that the judge neither took into account any argument of freedom of speech, nor he weighed the interests of the journalist and the interests of the investigation. Moreover, as it is seen from the resolution, the court of law failed to take into account that this measure concerned the mass media, given that the access to the mass media has a special legal status (sub-paragraph 6, paragraph 2, article 160, sub-paragraph 1, article 162 of the Code of criminal procedure of Ukraine). Further, in conformity to the article 387 of the Criminal code of Ukraine, the liability for having disclosed the secrecy of the investigation is incumbent solely to the functionaries or the persons who signed a written notification on non-disclosure (for instance, the witnesses). The journalists, in principle, cannot be liable for disclosure of information, because they are not the holders of information, they are not committed to keep the information. We, members of the Media Movement, consider this decision being a pressure onto the Novoe Vremya edition and violation of the international commitments of Ukraine to respect the freedom of speech. We urge the General prosecutor’s office of Ukraine to abstain from making pressure on the Novoe Vremya and from any action which could lead to disclosure of the sources of information of the investigative journalist and to renounce to implement the ruling of the court. We call the High council of justice of Ukraine to provide an evaluation of professionalism and uprightness of the judge who issued the resolution which endangered the journalist’s sources of information and can result in search at the independent edition. Also we call the law enforcement bodies and the courts of justice to work out finally the proper jurisdiction of access to the documents of the mass media and the journalists. In conformity to the Code of criminal procedure of Ukraine, such access could be obtained solely after it will be proved in the court that this is impossible to get this information by other means, and only in that very case one could bring up the issue of an access to the documents of the mass media and the journalists. IMI informed earlier, the February 4th, the Pechersk district court in Kyiv provided the Prosecutor’s general office with an access to the internal documents of the editorial board of Novoe Vremya and to all materials that the journalist Ivan Verstyuk had sent to the addresses of electronic mails of the edition. The press officer for the GPO Andriy Lysenko informed the investigation officers of the public prosecutor’s office were compelled to obtain the access to the materials of the Novoe Vremya edition at the court of justice, because the holder of the information company “The Publishing house “Media-DK” declined to provide all necessarily materials to the investigation. On February 5th 2019, the Media movement has been initiated in Ukraine in order to ensure that the citizens of Ukraine to elect the president and the parliament on basis of complete and truthful information. Several Ukraine TV channels, radio companies, printed press outlets and web-based editions and media NGOs joined the Media Movement. The initiators of the media movement were the Independent media council, the Hromadske radio, the NGO Detektor Media, the NGO Institute of Mass Information, the internationally based NGO Internews-Ukraine, the Center for democracy and rule of law, the Souspilnist Foundation, the Independent association of TV and the radio broadcasters, the NGO Donetsk Institute of Information, the NGO Institute of democracy named of Pylyp Orlyk. More than 60 participants, the mass media, the media institutions and several journalists signed the document. In the short term, the provisions on membership in the Media Movement are to be drawn up. In order to join the Media Movement or to support it, please, contact its coordinator Vadym Miskyy: [email protected].
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