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Persecuting journalists for reporting may be "dropped" from the draft CCU – IMI lawyer

19.12.2023, 17:37

The draft of the new Criminal Code of Ukraine has narrowed down the list of actions considered as obstruction to journalism. Namely, persecuting journalists for reporting may be "dropped" from the CCU, according to the article "The new draft Criminal Code of Ukraine: how the 'journalism articles' are changing" by an IMI law expert, Volodymyr Zelenchuk.

"The criminal law will not provide sufficient protection for a journalist against abuse motivated by revenge for reported content if the abuse itself does not result in severe damage to his health," writes Volodymyr Zelenchuk.

The article also mentions that the draft Criminal Code of Ukraine only retains Article 4.11.10, which contains a list of punishable acts targeting the legal professional work of journalists.

In terms of crimes that interfere with the legal professional work of a journalist, Article 4.11.10 of the new Code lists the following actions as types of obstruction:

  • violence;
  • seizing the collected, processed, prepared materials;
  • temporarily seizing the technical equipment used by a journalist for legal reporting;
  • denying access to information;
  • prohibiting to criticize a public official;
  • barring a journalist from a certain place or territory.

The drafters of the new Code did not include any articles on encroachment on the life, health, freedom and property of journalists, their close relatives or family members in connection with their reporting (which are present in the current CCU). This means that such cases will be classified under Article 4.11.10 and one of the general articles regarding encroachments on life, health, etc.

Accordingly, murder, attempted murder, capture or taking hostage of a journalist, destruction of their property, as well as threats of death, violence (causing harm to health) or property damage to a journalist, their family or close relatives will not be considered as a separate category punishable acts which warrant more severe penalties and will be investigated according to the general provisions on criminal liability.

In practice, this may have a two-fold negative impact in terms of oversight over the pre-trial investigation and the limits of the court's judgement.

We would like to remind you that the Commission on Legal Reform has been working on the draft of a new Criminal Code of Ukraine, which is supposed to update and correct the shortcomings of the current Ukrainian criminal law, for three years.

Read the extended analysis by the IMI law expert Volodymyr Zelenchuk here.

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