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Media community demands from the authorities to guarantee unobstructed work of journalists

15.09.2017, 14:29
On September 15, on the eve of the 17th anniversary of disappearance of Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze, journalists and civil activists appeal to the politicians and officials to cease any speculations around the cases of Gongadze, Sheremet, and other incidents involving aggression against journalists. Here is the full statement released by the community: To: President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko Prosecutor General,  Yuriy Lutsenko Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov Attn.: Higher Council of Justice Public Integrity Council STATEMENT We, representatives of Ukrainian NGOs and media organizations, and of the Ukrainian journalist community , on the day of the 17th anniversary of disappearance of Georgiy Gongadze, address the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General with a demand to the authorities to take all systemic measures necessary to comprehensively defend the right of citizens to receive information, and to guarantee unobstructed activities of journalists. Over 17 years have passed since the day Gongadze was murdered, yet the people who ordered this high-profile crime, have still not been identified. We ask the General Prosecutor's office of Ukraine to complete the investigation on those who ordered the crime, and to officially send them notice of suspicion, or to disclose the materials of the pretrial investigation, and to admit that too much time passed, and now it is practically impossible to gather evidence on the hirers. We emphasize that we have no doubts about the legality and justice of the life sentence to Oleksiy Pukach. We appeal the court of cassation not to draw out consideration of the case of Pukach, and, finally, to start the cassation reviewing of the merits of this case. We demand the law enforcement agencies, and Ukrainian authorities in general, to take all possible measures to identify and to punish those who are guilty of murder of Pavlo Sheremet, the journalist. In particular, we demand regular public reporting on the status of investigation of this high-profile case. We place separate emphasis on the urgent need to reinforce the investigation team that works on the Sheremet case. We appeal to issue an official request to the diplomatic agencies of the EU countries and of the USA and to engage investigators from these countries for this case. Although the general situation with investigations of violations of freedom of press has improved overall (according to the data of the General Prosecutor's office, based on the results of 2016, 31 cases related to freedom of press violations were investigated and transferred to the court, while in 2015 there were only fifteen such cases, and in eight months of 2017 — 14 such cases), we emphasize that until now, the majority of those who attack the journalists remain unpunished. As an example, the aggressors who attacked the journalists during the events of the Revolution of Dignity in 2013–2014, when over two hundred our colleagues were victims, have faced no punishment whatsoever. We also appeal to the politicians and the officials to cease any political speculations around the case of Gongadze, Sheremet, and other cases related to aggression against journalists — no words can substitute investigations!”. The statement was signed by NGO “Institute of Mass Information”, “Detector Media”, Center for Democracy and Supremacy of Law, Commission for Ethics of journalism, and Hromadske. The statement is open for additional signatures of supporters.   Traditionally, on September 16, in Kyiv and in other cities, rallies are being organized to commemorate Georgiy Gongadze and all Ukrainian journalists who perished. We invite all who support the ideas of freedom of press and democracy, to join these rallies. The events will be be held without affiliation with any political parties and without any symbols of such parties or organizers of the events. In Kyiv, the event will be held near the stele at Maidan Nezalezhnosti square - it will start on 18:30. The journalist and founder of the online media outlet «Ukrainska pravda» Georgiy Gongadze disappeared in Kyiv on September 16,  2000. For the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, the former head of department for external surveillance of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Oleksiy Pukach received a life sentence, with the court sentence becoming effective in January of 2016 , and also former police officers were sentenced to serve different terms in prison - Mykola Protasov (sentenced to 13 years of prison, died in prison), Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych (sentenced to 12 years in prison), whose sentences became effective in March of 2008. The hirers who ordered the assassination of Gongadze are still not identified and not punished. Journalist Pavlo Sherement died in Kyiv on July 20,  2016,  as a result of explosion of the car he was in. The police defined the case under the article «murder committed using method threatening lives of multiple individuals». The murder of the journalist still remains unresolved. As IMI reported before, in eight months of 2017, on the territory of Ukraine (without the temporarily occupied parts of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts and Crimea) there were 172 registered cases of violation of the freedom of press. Most of them were in the categories "obstruction to lawful professional activities of journalists (54), limitation of access to information (23), threats and intimidation (21 case).  
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