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CJE called police to inspect six institutions as to legitimacy of press cards issuance

27.01.2021, 19:56
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The Commission on Journalism Ethics (CJE) applied to the police and the Ministry of Justice with request to verify the activity held by the “Journalists against Corruption” news agency and newspaper, the National Union of Independent Journalists of Ukraine, the “Tavriya News” news agency, the “Liga Inform” newspaper, and the “Business Companion” magazine for forgery of documents, abuse of the rights of a journalist, obtaining a certificate of state registration under a false pretense, as this is said in the statement signed by the Commission on Journalism Ethics, made public on January 27.

If the facts are confirmed, the CJE required from the Ministry of Justice to seize the court in order to terminate the registration of these media.

The commission also asked the police to provide the list of persons who in 2017 – 2021 got a firearm permit as journalists from these mass media.

Besides that, the CJE asked the police to inform about the progress of considering of the complaint filed by Serhiy Kot, based on which the proceedings were started against the executive director and the Institute of Mass Information and member of the Commission on Journalism Ethics Oksana Romanyuk.

The CJE noted that lately, they have been recording the frequent cases of mass issuance of journalists’ press cards to the persons who did not perform any journalistic activities, including the issuance of such press cards for money. "At the same time, people who advertise such services made point of the advantages of the status of a journalist, such as an opportunity to get a firearm permit, to get benefits over other citizens, without hindrance to visit the authorities, etc.," the statement said.

The commission called to "immediately cease the illegitimate issuance of press cards and the abuse of journalist status."

The CJE reminded that it has already adopted a number of decisions and statements on the activities of the director of the news agency "Tavria News" Kyrylo Stremousov and the editor-in-chief of the news agency "Journalists against Corruption" Serhiy Kot  due to the the mass issuance of journalistic press cards.

Moreover, the Commission recorded the traffic of journalistic press cards by “Liga Inform” website . According to the CJE, through the page created in December 2020, the organization advertised its services on Facebook, as well as communicated with its potential "clients" at the forum of weapon owners.

The CJE also drew attention to the activities of the publishing house "Business Companion", which posted on the site the prices for a journalistis press cards: from 1600 to 4500 UAH (about $57 -$159). 

"The Commission finds such precedents dangerous. After all, the journalistic press card confers the right to get traumatic weapons, to attend the meetings of election commissions, to freely visit the premises of entities of power, and so on. Unscrupulous individuals who are not journalists, but dispose such a identity documents often abuse these rights. In particular, the illegal issuance of journalistic press cards contributes to an illegal traffic in arms and terrorism: terrorists can buy press cards, enter government buildings or other facilities without hindrance, and pose a danger to citizens, ” the statement said.

The Commission also emphasized that journalism not only provided some extra rights, but also some extra responsibilities. And urged the editorial offices and the journalists not to abuse their rights and to be socially responsible.

As IMI reported, on January 24, 2021, the Media Movement called on the National Police to immediately investigate the actions of the NGO "Journalists Against Corruption" and to refrain from persecuting activists for comments in mass media..

On January 21, 2021, we learnt that the National Police had instituted criminal proceedings against Oksana Romaniuk, a member of the “Media Movement” and executive director of the Institute of Mass Information, on a claim filed by Serhiy Kot, the head of the “Journalists Against Corruption”. On December 31, 2020, Serhiy Kot filed the complaint for the comments of Mrs Romaniuk published by “Detektor Media” about the trade in press cards issued by the NGO “Journalists Against Corruption”. Serhiy Kot blamed the media expert for consiously untruthfull reporting about the crime (Article 383 of the Criminal Code).

The website of the NGO "Journalists Against Corruption" posted the message that proposed to issue press card to anyone for the payment of membership fees, and this person instead was to take part in public events of the organization and publish at least one article per month.

On December 29, 2020, the Commission on Journalim Ethics publicly condemned the editor-in-chief of news agency "Journalists against Corruption" Serhiy Kot and demanded to stop granting non- journalistic status to non-journalists and to stop the advertising campaign to attract such "journalists".

This is said in the decision of the CJE of December 29 on Serhiy Kot's complaint against the publication "Journalists against Corruption" goes on trading journalistic press cards" ("Detector Media") of December 3 and" Police must respond to the press cards traffic - Oksana Romanyuk " (The Institute of Mass Information) of December 3, 2020.

On December 21, 2017, the Commission on Journalism Ethics recommended the persons who applied to adhere to such public organizations, in particular as the NGO “Journalists against Corruption”, first to inquire and to check whether they have been registered as it is prescribed by law, whether they have the right to issue press cards, in order to avoid eventual violations of journalists' rights and misleading as to the status and scope of legal guarantees. 

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