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Investigations into crimes against the work of journalists: first half of 2022

17.08.2022, 16:43

In the first half of 2022, 59 acts with signs of criminal offense under the "journalistic" articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine were registered. Of these, only two cases have been investigated and brought to court.

Such are the data of the Office of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, received in response to IMI's request regarding the number of ongoing criminal proceedings under the Criminal Code articles on protection of journalism.

According to the GPO, out of the 59 registered proceedings, 40 were related to Art. 171 of the Criminal Code (preclusion of legal professional activities of journalists; details on Parts of the Criminal Code articles were not provided in the response). 17 criminal proceedings were under Art. 345-1 of the Criminal Code (threats or violence against a journalist), and two more proceedings – under Art. 347-1 of the Criminal Code (intentional destruction or damage to journalist's property). No proceedings were registered under Articles 348-1 and 349-1 of the Criminal Code.

In general, during the first half of the year, 20 of the 59 proceedings were closed under various clauses of Part 1 of Art. 284 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. Of those closed: 12 proceedings under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, seven criminal proceedings under Art. 345-1 and one under Art. 347-1 of the Criminal Code. Thus, there are currently 39 criminal proceedings under "journalistic articles" for which the investigation has not yet (as of the half year's end) made a final decision; of those, 25 were opened under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code, 10 under Art. 345-1 of the Criminal Code, and one under Art. 347-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Two criminal proceedings (both filed under Article 171 of the Criminal Code on preclusion of legal professional activities of journalists) have been sent to the courts with indictments. This is a significant contrast compared to last year's statistics, probably caused by the full-scale phase of the russian aggression.

We remind that at the beginning of this year, IMI analyzed the statistics for 2021. For the whole of 2021, 27 criminal proceedings under "journalistic articles" were brought to court – 13.5 proceedings per half year. Thus, in 2022, the number of proceedings referred to the court has decreased by 6.75 times.

In general, 248 such proceedings were registered in 2021, i.e., roughly 124 proceedings per half year. Therefore, in the first half of 2022, the number of filed proceedings has dropped by more than a half. However, the percentage of closed criminal proceedings also dropped significantly: if, according to the current data, a little over a third of the proceedings were closed in 2022, then last year, 128 out of 248 were closed – more than half. We do not deny that this year the war factor has impeded the work of the authorities, which is why the adoption of any decision on criminal proceedings in "journalistic cases" – whether it be a decision on submitting the case to court or on closing of proceedings – is being delayed.

In general, the almost halving of the number of registered criminal proceedings for "journalistic articles" may be caused both by a decrease in the number of relevant offenses (a significant number of journalists and mass media have been forced to cease their activities due to the war, and if there is no journalist work, there is nothing to preclude) and by latency, when the journalists who were targeted simply do not report the offenses against them, because the situation in the country means that many are having additional troubles unrelated to their profession.

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