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In 2021, rights of journalists have been infringed nine times by the judiciary - IMI

13.05.2021, 14:58

Since beginning of the year, IMI experts recorded nine cases of violations of journalists' rights by officials of the judiciary in Ukraine. These are the results of the monthly monitoring of the Freedom of Speech Barometer.

Violations were recorded in Kyiv, Lutsk, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Sumy region.

Among the violations recorded by IMI there were seven facts of obstructions and two cases of legal pressure (decisions of the Pechersk and Holosiivskyi district courts of Kyiv to block access to 12 and 426 websites ).

Mostly journalists were not allowed to attend public court hearings. This is especially true of high-profile cases, which are the subject of heightened public interest. Denial of admission was often justified by quarantine restrictions.

List of violations of journalists' rights recorded by the Institute of Mass Information:

○ On January 26, journalists of the Trostyanets newspaper “Tyzhden” were denied access to the court hearing of the Trostyanets District Court of the Sumy Region, in which the mayor was the defendant. Representatives of the court referred to the quarantine restrictions and offered journalists to watch the online broadcast.

○ Avers TV channel reported that their film crew was denied access to the court hearing of the Lutsk City District Court on February 4, considering several cases of violation of face mask regime. As the journalists said, the judge Svitlana Krupinska was opposed to taking video of the hearing. In particular, they were interested in the case of a man who was fined for not wearing face mask, as he was playing with his son in the street. The representative of IMI in Volyn region was told by the court's press service that "according to your report, it is unclear in which specific case journalists were not denied access, as the information is incomplete, it is impossible to answer your questions." 

○ On February 4, the Holosiivskyi District Court of Kyiv has ruled to block access to 426 websites. In particular, the sites of the Livejournal (livejournal.com), Vinnytsia online edition "20 minutes" (20minut.ua), the Russian RBC (rbc.ru) and others were among blocked websites.

○ Judge of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Court of Appeal Oleksiy Ivanchenko did not allow the film crews of TV channels 1 + 1 and ICTV to attend the hearing on March 2, citing quarantine restrictions. The broadcast of the public hearing, arranged especially for the press, was also suspended without giving any clear reason. 

○ On March 23, the journalist of the media project Watchers.Media Alina Kondratenko was not allowed to attend a hearing of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv to choose a measure of restraint for veteran Vladyslav Granetsky-Stafiychuk (Sorda) for the rally under the President's Office.

○ On March 26, the journalist for Watchers.Media Alina Kondratenko and correspondent for UNIAN news agency Dmytro Khilyuk were denied access the hearing of the Pechersk District Court in Kyiv to choose a measure of restraint for activist Roman Ratushny on suspicion of hooliganism during a protest on May 20 near Office of the President. The refusal was justified by quarantine restrictions and the absence of journalists on the list. Instead, journalists of Channel 5, “1 + 1”, the online publication “Hraty”, UA:PBC, and Channel 4 were let in.

○ March 30 journalist media project Watchers.Media Alina Kondratenko was denied access to the hearing of Darnytsa district court of Kyiv, arguing the refusal with the quarantine restrictions. The case of two accused in the abduction and murder of activist and participant of the EuroMaidan Self-Defense of Cherkasy region, journalist Vasyl Serhiyenko, was considered at the hearing.

○ The Pechersk District Court of Kyiv has ruled to seize the intellectual property rights of domain names of 12 editions, including “Apostroph”, “Glavkom”, “Golos” and other media, and ordered mobile network operators and Internet providers to block access to the sites of these media..

○ On April 7, Hanna Sokolova, a regional correspondent for “Hraty” edition in Kharkiv, was barred from sitting in the Chuhuiv City Court of the Kharkiv Region. The journalist wanted to attend the court hearing of a criminal case accusing a resident of Kharkiv Ervand A. of intentional destruction or damage to the property of a gas company, arson of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration and threat or violence against a law enforcement officer. The court's press secretary, Anna Sedneva, explained the ban issued by the judge S. Obolenska with the quarantine restrictions.

  • It will be recalled that on April 1, IMI appealed to the High Council of Justice, the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, the Council of Judges of Ukraine and the Supreme Court over an illegal restriction of journalists' rights in courts. The Institute of Mass Information has recorded repeated cases of journalists not being allowed to attend public court hearings without proper legal grounds. This is especially true of high-profile cases, which are the subject of increased public interest. IMI called on the highest bodies of judicial self-government and supervision: To secure ceasing of the practice of unlawful selective non-admission of journalists to public court hearings.
  • To bring judges who have allowed illegal restrictions on the rights of journalists, violation of the requirements of publicity of the trial, to disciplinary or other legal liability provided by law.
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