The Ukrainian authorities must act to investigate crimes against journalists, a leading panel of international experts has warned.
The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) – alongside their affiliate the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine – issued the call for action to tackle impunity at a conference in Kiev.
EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez and Acting President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Sergiy Tomilenko were among the main speakers at the conference Safety of Journalists: An Imperative for Free Media, Freedom of Expression and Public Order on Friday 3 February.
Sergiy Tomilenko, the head of NUJU noted that investigations in to the cases of journalists who suffered during the events on Independence Square in Kyiv late 2013/early 2014 were incomplete or superficial. While some cases had been referred to court, many collapsed because of the unprofessionally conducted preliminary investigations.
In the case of photographer Igor Efimov from Cherkassy, despite 3 years of investigations, the suspect acquitted as a result of procedural failures. Now the case under appeal.
“We are now conducting an audit of all cases of incidents with journalists and encourage victims to submit a second lawsuit or appeal. However, most of them refuse because they do not trust police officers and do not believe in objective investigation” he said.
According to Sergiy Tomilenko such impunity generates more crimes against journalists in Ukraine. He also urged international organizations not to overestimate expectations from the new training of police and prosecutors - because previous such training, for example in 2013, had not saved journalists from brutal beatings. Instead, law enforcement officials justify that they have to work in difficult conditions.
Sergiy Tomilenko informed participants about the national campaign against impunity for crimes against journalists that NUJU are conducting in partnership with the IFJ. In particular, the union is conducting an audit of all incidents related to the physical safety of journalists in Ukraine since the end of November 2013.
Leading national and regional media – including tv-channel Magnolia, news agency Ukrainian News, a leading online media Obozrevatel, national TV channel Inter, the newspaper OGO - are to publish materials on impunity, the stories of the affected journalists, and promote the campaign.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries