No “manual command” of accreditation of journalists in JFO zone, as to Ministry of Defense
The Ministry of Defense said there have not been any restriction or "manual control" of the procedure of granting accreditation to journalists who work in the area of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO), as the Ministry of Defense told in its official letter, reacting to the IMI's statement on the inadmissibility of "manual command" of accreditations of journalists in the JFO.
“The accreditation of the press in the area of the JFO is carried out according to a transparent procedure, algorithm and clearly defined criteria, which are set out on the website of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. There are no restrictions or “manual command” of the accreditation procedure for journalists, ” the letter says, signed by the First Deputy Commander of Joined Forces, Major General Igor Tanstyura.
At the same time, according to the letter, 2689 journalists (1738 representatives of Ukrainian mass media and 951 foreign ones) have been accredited since April 2018. And every week, at least 30 journalist groups and freelancers work in the JFO zone, they had undergone the appropriate accreditation procedure.
The Ministry of Defense reminded that the admission of media representatives to the area of the JFO is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the law on information, "On specificities of state policy to ensure state sovereignty of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions", Instructions on the procedure for admission of journalists, media professionals to the sites of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of Ukraine. Also, the work of civilian media representatives in the area of the JFO is regulated by the order of the commander of the Joint Forces.
In addition, the ministry noted that the admission of civilian media representatives to the area of the JFO is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the current legislation on the protection of life and health of military personnel, civilians, prevention of leakage of restricted access information owned by the state, preventing the spread of distorted and negative information about the Armed Forces by mass media.
"That is why in this case there are no violations of the requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine by the command of the JFO," the letter reads.
The Ministry cited Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, according to which everyone was guaranteed the right to freedom of thought and expression, to the free expression of their views and beliefs. At the same time, the Defense Ministry noted that in some cases freedom of speech might be restricted.
“Everyone has the right to freely collect, store, use and disseminate information, either verbally, in writing or in any other way, at his option. But at the same time item 3: "The exercise of these rights may be restricted by law in the interests of national security, territorial integrity of the public order for the purpose of preventing riots or crimes, for the protection of public health ..." - the letter reads.
As reported by IMI, on November 7, the NGO "Institute of Mass Information" called on the Ministry of Defense, the Security Service and the law enforcement agencies to comply with the legislation of Ukraine on information and not exceed the statutory powers of granting accreditation to media representatives in the area of JFO.
“The accreditation of journalists in the Joint Forces Operation area should be accorded based on clear and public rules, in accordance with clearly defined criteria. This is inadmissible to "manually handle" the issues of accreditation of the journalists without determining the criteria for accordance of accreditation for the journalists”, ” the IMI letter said.
As IMI reported, on November 6, photojournalist with LB.ua Maks Levin said that the Joint Forces Operations headquarters had denied him accreditation to the JFO area. The reason, as follows from the response of the headquarters, was the violation of the rules of work in the JFO area, but they failed to precise which violation it was question.
The JFO headquarters justified denial to accredit Levin referring to the fact his press card expired and also that he failed to send applications for stay in the area of JFO.
Max Levin told IMI that he came in the settlement Zolote-4 in as journalist and he presented his press card. He also specified that he did not work in the area of military positions.