Ukraine: Journalists urge presidential candidates to guarantee freedom of speech

The International Federation of Journalists join the campaign of its Ukrainian affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), to call on all presidential candidates to sign the Declaration on the Defence of Freedom of Speech before 2019 elections.

Credits: NUJU

IFJ president, Philippe Leruth, sent an open letter calling on "all the candidates of the 2019 presidential elections to commit to guarantee and protect freedom of speech in accordance with international standards if elected as President of the country”.

NUJU recorded 86 attacks against media workers in Ukraine during 2018.

Read the full NUJU’s statement here:

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) that is a member of the IFJ and the EFJ appeals to Ukrainian top politicians to sign the Declaration on the Defence of Freedom of Speech prior to the 2019 elections. The politicians undertake to guarantee freedom of speech, effective protection of journalists' rights and fighting against impunity by signing the document.

The declaration was elaborated by the board of the NUJU in partnership with Ukrainian journalists and the IFJ experts. The document urges the candidates to adhere to seven basic 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.

President of the International Federation of Journalists Philippe Leruth supports the efforts of the Ukrainian Union:

"I write to you on behalf of the 600000 journalists represented by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to back the campaign led by our affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), calling on all the candidates of the 2019 presidential elections to commit to guarantee and protect freedom of speech in accordance with international standards if elected as President of the country", said Mr Leruth to the candidates for the presidency in an open letter.

Twelve candidates signed the Declaration within the campaign launched by the NUJU in last November. One of the race leaders and former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko, democratic leader Anatoliy Hrytsenko, members of the Ukrainian parliament are among them.

The proposal to sign the Declaration on the Defence of Freedom of Speech was sent to the incumbent President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and a famous comedian Volodymyr Zelensky who is a current race leader (according to sociological research).

"Our efforts are aimed at ensuring that those who attack journalists will realise the inevitability of severe punishment, understand that the defence of freedom of speech is a priority for the government", said the President of the NUJU Sergiy Tomilenko.

The 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. Taking into account the crisis with the safety of media workers in the state, the Ukrainian union demands urgent appointment of parliamentary hearings on journalists' physical safety and freedom of speech in Ukraine.