The Declaration was prepared by Ukrainian journalists and experts from the IFJ and EFJ and comprises a list of obligations and commitments on freedom of speech, the protection of journalists’ rights and the fight against impunity. The text includes the following seven principles:
- Respect for freedom of speech and expression.
- Do not take any action that illegally restricts these freedoms. Publicly condemn attempts to do so.
- Do not interfere in journalistic work; do not put pressure on journalists and the media.
- Do not use security forces to prosecute journalists. The persecution of journalists for their work is inadmissible.
- Annual public law enforcement reports on the results of investigations on crimes against journalists and the fight against impunity.
- Respect for the journalists' work; do not divide the journalists into "loyal" and "bad"; do not to put labels and not to encourage hostility.
- Respect current laws in the field of freedom of expression; legislative innovations must be agreed with the journalistic community and the media within broad consultations.
The document has been signed so far by the leaders of nine political parties, including Dmytro Razumkov, the leader of the current ruling party in Ukraine. It has been also supported by several influential political leaders such as the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko or the current Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
NUJU’s president, Sergiy Tomilenko, said: “This document is a commitment to protect freedom of speech and should be endorsed by responsible Ukrainian politicians. We don`t know which political coalition will be in the new parliament. However, we know that the absolute majority of new deputies will have signed up to protect the freedom of speech and the rights of journalists. Hostility towards the media, labelling and ignoring crimes against journalists must be part of the past”.
NUJU believes that systemic impunity, physical attacks on the journalists and open hostility towards the media from the politicians are among the main challenges for media workers in Ukraine. Proof of this is that it recorded 86 attacks against media workers in Ukraine during 2018.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We welcome the fact that many political parties have signed the Declaration of Freedom of Speech drawn up by our Ukrainian colleagues. However, this is not enough. All political parties must commit to guarantee and protect press freedom and of speech in accordance with international standards and sign NUJU’s Declaration”.