Ukraine journalists press President Poroshenko for action against impunity

A Ukraine journalists' delegation, led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)’s affiliates the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), participated yesterday in a working group organized in Kiev on journalists’ safety and established by the Presidential Administration of Ukraine to tackle impunity.

The group was first launched on 16th September when Ukraine journalists marked the 15th anniversary of the death of the Ukraine reporter Georgy Gongadze by presenting a report with 325 cases of journalist’ violations since the election of President Poroshenko in June 2014. The main goal of the delegation was to demand government action over these cases.

“Investigations into past crimes against journalists, whether during the Maidan or before, have been inefficient or superficial,” said Sergey Tomilenko, Acting Head of NUJU. “We have made some progress today with the commitment of the authorities to conduct thorough investigations and to continue to exchange information with us.”

According to NUJU and IMTUU, the investigations conducted have been too slow, ignored key evidence and were often dismissed prematurely. Despite the comprehensive evidence provided by media of beatings and assaults, cases are too readily dismissed.

IMTUU Board member Oleksandr Tarasov said that “Journalists who file complaints have had to wait for months before being asked for a formal interview. Many journalists chose not to make formal complaints because they lack of confidence in the system.”

Sviatoslav Tsegolko, Presidential Press Secretary, emphasised the importance of journalists in exposing corruption and committed the government to renewed efforts to complete investigations, protect journalists and improve relations with the newly reformed police force.

The meeting was joined by the Institute for Mass Information and NGO Telekritika, who are collaborating closely with NUJU and IMTUU in the monitoring of violations of journalists rights. Representatives of the police and prosecutors office also participated with the Presidential administration.

Oliver Money-Kyrle, IFJ Assistant General Secretary, who visited Ukraine as part of the IFJ’s global impunity campaign, said that “Ukraine has an opportunity to become a model for tackling impunity. The political commitment has been made; now it is time to turn the fine words into concrete results.”

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