Since beginning of the year, six cases over violations of journalists' rights brought to court - Ministry of the Interior
Since last five months, 77 criminal proceedings have been instituted over offenses committed against the journalists, and the indictments of six criminal proceedings have been referred to the court, as Artem Shevchenko, director of communications department of the Ministry of the interior, told at the conference "Freedom of speech in Ukraine: challenges and eventual solutions” held on June 6th, as the Center for human rights ZMINA reported on its website. He specified that among all that have been instituted 58 are based on the article 171 of the Criminal Code (Obstruction to professional lawful activity of journalist), 14 proceedings are based on the article 345-1 (threat or violence against the journalist), 4 cases based on the article 347-1 ("Damage or intentional destruction of the journalist's property ") and one based on the article 348-1 ("Attempt on journalist's life "). Among the cases referred into court four cases are related to the article 171 (Obstruction to activity of journalist), two are related to the article 345-1 (threat or violence), two related to the 347-1 ("Damage or intentional destruction of the journalist's property). The spokesman of the Ministry added 63 criminal proceedings related to the journalisdm activity were dismissed. "The decision to drop the case is to be agreed with the public prosecutor's office, because the police is enable to abandon the proceeding on its own," Shevchenko said. "We are trying to draw attention of investigators to the need for an enhanced investigative action. But in a democracy the administration of justice cannot be prompt. Besides that, in our country a rapid justice makes impossible the functioning of the judicial system and the recent changes to the Criminal Procedure Code. Indeed, even the expert evidence could be done only based on the ruling of the court," said Shevchenko. In reference to the statistics cited by Artem Shevchenko, Ali Safarov, a lawyer at the Institute of mass information, noted that the criminal proceedings over the case of assault against the Cherkassy journalist Vadym Komarov, who stays currently in medically induced coma, were opened under the article 115 of the Criminal Code (murderous attempt). "But this is not a journalism linked article. And although this article presumes the punishment more severe than this one presumed by the article 345-1 ("Threat or violence against the journalist"), this is important for us to determine it is question of attack on freedom of speech. As this is an attempt against the freedom, it concerns all physical persons, not only one. Unfortunately, they fail understand it clearly, even at the level of the heads of investigating departments. And this translates into impunity that we are talking about. As long as our structures do not start to comply with the current legislation, nothing will function well here", human rights defender said. Shevchenko replied that in the case of Komarov, there is currently no sufficient evidences that an attack on a journalist was related to his professional activities, and if such evidences appear, the case could be re-qualified. IMI reported, on May 4th, in Cherkassy some unknown person beat the investigative journalist Vadym Komarov. He was sent to the hospital with grave injuries. Komarov remains still in a critical condition. Initially, the police opened a criminal case based on the part 1st of the article 121 ("Intentional grave bodily harm") of the Criminal Code. Then, the investigators re-qualified the criminal proceedings under articles 15 and 115 of the Criminal Code (murderous attempt).
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