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Multiple media outlets and NGOs demand that the Verkhovna Rada appoint a chair of the Freedom of Speech Committee

27.09.2023, 15:47

Multiple NGOs and media outlets call on the Verkhovna Rada to appoint an opposition representative with an impeccable reputation as chair of the Freedom of Speech Committee, according to the statement released by the Chesno Movement on September 27.

The initiators of the statement note that under Nestor Shufrych, the Freedom of Speech Committee has become one of the least transparent Committees in the Rada. "Moreover, the members of the Committee only reviewed two issues in over a year of work. This is the lowest indicator among all parliamentary committees," the statement reads.

The public sector and mass media stress that since the Parliament will be selecting the new members for the Committee, it is very important for the country that democratic principles are observed during the procedure.

"The Freedom of Speech Committee should be chaired by a representative of the opposition with an impeccable reputation and statesmanlike thinking, and the Committee should include deputies who are ready to defend freedom of speech as a value. These deputies should develop appropriate legislative decisions that will protect and underpin freedom of speech under martial law," the statement said.

The authors of the statement also note that the liquidation of the Committee will be negatively received by both the Ukrainian society and international partners, since freedom of speech is an important component of democracy.

"For civil society and mass media, replacing Shufrych with someone from a deputy faction which consistently votes in favour of the monomajority's decisions in the Parliament will not signal that the chairmanship of the Freedom of Speech Committee has been given to the opposition," the statement said.

The address is open for signature. Call +38 (067) 658 77 98 or fill out the Google form.

The address was signed by: "Chesno" Movement, "Detector Media", "Ukrainian Pravda", "Glavkom", Radio NV, "Dzerkalo Tyzhnya", Anti-Corruption Staff, Institute of Legislative Initiatives, "Automaidan", DeJURE, Center for Joint Action, Bihus.Info, ZMINA, ACAC, Center for Political and Legal Reform, "Nashi Hroshi", MOST (Kherson), "CASE Ukraine" / "The Price of the State",, "Hromadske Radio", "Grunt", Institute of Mass Information, "Automaidan Vinnytsia", "Culture Action", "Pohlyad", "Svoya Khata".

As IMI reported, on September 20, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada dismissed deputy Nestor Shufrych, who is suspected of treason, from the post of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech chair. The police notified Shufrych of suspicion on September 15. On the same day, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv took Shufrych into custody for 60 days without bail.

On November 14, 2022, multiple human rights organizations and media demanded the dismissal of People's Deputy Nestor Shufrych from the position of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee for Freedom of Speech; they also demanded that a unified policy regarding deputies of pro-Russian parties be developed.

The organizations noted that Shufrych was elected in 2019 as member of the outlawed OPFL party. "It is inadmissible for the Freedom of Speech Committee in the Parliament to be headed by a representative of a party which has been outlawed in the country, who, like other OPFL deputies, still has the clearance to access state secrets," the statement reads.

Shufrych himself said that he was not going to resign as head of the committee voluntarily.

On July 10, 2023, deputies from the "European Solidarity" faction registered the Resolution No. 9469, proposing to the Verkhovna Rada to dismiss Nestor Shufrych from the post of chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech.

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