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This is unlikely that the Project of law #9306 aiming to criminalize defamation will be adopted, as Roman Golovenko, IMI lawyer said regarding the legislative initiative of the PP Bloc (Petro Poroshenko‘s Bloc).
“Hypothetically, adoption of such a project of law is unlikely, but if it happens, we could anticipate that different sorts of defamation, smear campaigns would move to web-sites where one could identify neither author of the story, nor the web-site’s owner, even less to prove they are responsible for spreading this information. That is to say, it will be more difficult task for the conscientious authors, because they will be anxious for each phrase, or the author will be prosecuted on a criminal charge for value judgment or spreading of credible information which is treated as a slander”, - the lawyer said.
“This is not the first attempt to criminalize the defamation in the Criminal Code of 2001, however the previous attempts had failed”, as Roman Golovenko said. “Some occidental countries have such a criminal penalty for defamation, but it is uncommon and currently, it is disappearing”.
On his opinion, this bill is special, because they want to institute the responsibility only for the calumny, even if previously in the Criminal Code this corpus delicti had been associated with insult of the person.
“Defamation is an attempt against the honor, business reputation, whereas insult is, first of all, an attempt against the dignity. In fact, these elements are crossbred, the defamation is defined in it as an attempt against honor, reputation and dignity, which appears not very competent from the point of view of the law. Actually, according to the explanatory note, this project of law is due to several accusations against certain persons who would be implicated in assault against Kateryna Gandzyuk (functionary of Kherson municipal council who used to criticize the police and was murdered – note of translator). Obviously, the project of law deals with the defamation part only”, as Roman Golovenko commented on.
On 20 of November, three MPs from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc (PPB) have lodged on the project of law #9306 to be voted by the Verkhovna Rada, which meant criminal penalty for defamation with custodial restraint of 2-5 years or imprisonment for a term of 3 years, as IMI had reported earlier.
On 18 September 2012, the Verkhovna Rada adopted in its first reading the bill #11013 on criminalization of defamation, filed by Vitaliy Zhuravskyy, MP from Party of Regions, and on 2 October 2012, the Parliament revoked this project of law.
On 16 January 2014, in a breach of the procedure, the Verkhovna Rada passed the bill and on 17 January, the President Yanukovych signed the law # 3879 (V. Kolesnychenko, V. Oliynyk’s law ), which restricted the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Particularly, the law instituted the criminal responsibility for defamation. Afterwards, this law has been revoked.
On 19 August 2016, MP and NewsOne TV channel owner Evhen Murayev lodged on the project of law # 5034 “On amending Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure (as to refinement of responsibility for having committed the offenses against the liberty, honor and dignity of the person)”. The bill proposed to amend the Criminal Code with the new assets 151-1 and 151-2, meaning the criminal responsibility for defamation and insult.
In the past, the respective bills were lodged in 2004 by Leonid Chernovetsky (former MP and Mayor of Kyiv) and in 2006 and 2010 by MP Vasyl Kyselyov, in 2008 by MP Anton Yatsenko.