On September 9-10, 2021, a training on international standards for the protection of journalists and effective investigation of offences against journalists was held in Kyiv with the support of the European Union and the Council of Europe Joint Project “EU and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine” and in partnership with the Prosecutors’ Training Centre of Ukraine.
During the training, 20 participants listened to the lectures on legal framework regulating journalists' professional work, international standards on criminal protection of journalists, the peculiarities of procedural guidance and support of public prosecution of criminal offenses against journalists, etc. In addition, the theoretical part was followed by practical tasks.
“While Ukraine has been advancing in terms of freedom of expression and freedom of media - instrumental in promoting democratic reform, investigative journalism, and fighting corruption - the ongoing pandemic has created additional difficulties to the work of journalists in Ukraine. Moreover, the issue of violence against journalists and media outlets, as well as the impunity of perpetrators remains a serious and long-lasting problem that the EU follows closely”, said Ismail Khan, Political Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.
To ensure democracy, states have to protect journalists and effectively investigate all cases of attacks on media representatives. Failure by the state to fulfill this obligation has serious consequences, as it creates an atmosphere of impunity that promotes censorship and self-censorship. Not only a particular journalist suffers from this, but also the community as a whole, losing the opportunity to receive the necessary information.
Protecting the safety of journalists and others who speak up on issues of public interest has been a key part of the Council of Europe’s work.
“The Council of Europe member states have the obligation to fully implement the European Convention on Human Rights and to abide by the judgments of the Court. The safety of journalists is guaranteed under several provisions of the Convention. The jurisprudence of the Court specifies member states’ obligations to protect the safety of journalists", said Steen Nørlov, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine.
The investigation of the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, Pavlo Sheremet, and Vadym Komarov are in the focus of public attention. Besides these resonant cases, there are a lot of cases of attacks on journalists which require proper effective investigations.
While some improvements are visible in Ukraine, the quality of pre-trial investigations needs further improvement. Swift and efficient investigations need to be conducted in a transparent manner every time a journalist or media actor is attacked.
To remind, the Council of Europe has the Internet platform on which partner organisations representing journalists can report cases of violations of media freedom. The information gathered is forwarded immediately to the bodies of the Council of Europe and to the States concerned so that they can take action. As for now, there are 64 active alerts regarding threats to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Ukraine, 3 of which are waiting for a response from the Government.
The training is conducted within the special course on protection of media actors developed under the support of the Joint Project “EU and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine” in cooperation with three specialised educational institutions including the National Academy of Internal Affairs, the National School of Judges, and the Training Centre for Prosecutors of Ukraine. 180 judges and 60 police officers have already attended 2-days’ training organised jointly by the National School of Judges and the National Academy of Internal Affairs. The course is expected to be included in the mandatory training and retraining programme for police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
Materials of the training are at the link: https://bit.ly/3wyJtap
The project «EU and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine», funded by the EU and CoE, aims to enhance the role of media, its freedom and safety.
For additional information, please, contact Oksana Totovytska, Communication Officer of the project «EU and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine», via Oksana.firstname.lastname@example.org