Ukraine: Euro Leaders Must Take Action

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have written to European leaders to express their grave concern about the deteriorating situation of journalists in the Ukraine and appeal for them to take action. In a letter sent to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the OSCE, the IFJ/EFJ state that along with the beating, arrests and harassment of journalists, the Ukrainian government is now increasingly taking action to undermine freedom of speech and muzzle independent journalism. The letter has been sent following a new wave of fighting protests in Ukraine's capital city Kiev,  provoked by controversial anti-protest laws which were passed by the country's Parliament last week.  According to the IFJ/EFJ's Ukrainian affiliates, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTTU) and the National Union of Journalists in the Ukraine (NUJU),  over the last few days up to 30 journalists have been injured, with police beating and detaining media representatives, shooting at them and throwing noise grenades. Signed by IFJ President Jim Boumelha and EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård, the letter highlights a report compiled by the IMTTU and the NUJU which details the physical attacks against journalists since November 29th and contains a list of journalists who have suffered at the hands of the police. The letter states: "The ordeal being suffered by journalists while doing their jobs since the onset of the mass protest demonstrates beyond doubt the extent to which the Ukrainian government, in particular President Viktor Yanukovych, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko, have systematically violated journalists' rights."   In the letter, the IFJ/EFJ detail a number of actions undertaken by Ukrainian state authorities and government since November 29, including the shutdown of opposition channels, the seizure of computers and attempts to deport international journalists, which are clearly in violation of many European and International laws including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. "The IFJ and its affiliate unions worldwide believe that the recent actions by the Ukrainian government, its Head of the Security Service, Oleksandr Yakymenko, and its Security Council, Andriy Klyuyev, are a step back from their international obligations and are aimed at instilling a climate of fear among journalists and at destroying freedom of speech, peaceful gatherings and political pluralism in the Ukraine," says the letter. The IFJ/EFJ appeal for European leaders to take action in the face of these blatant violations, urging their respective organisations to condemn violent acts perpetrated against journalists and media in the Ukraine and asking them to "take all actions, including sanctions, necessary under your rules and statutes to force the Ukraine government to respect the statutes of the Council of Europe of which they are a member and the conventions and covenants which they ratified." For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries