Ongoing Impunity in the Case of Killed Journalists Andrea Rocchelli, Andrei Mironov and Wounded Photographer William Roguelon

Update: 17 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 24 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category Impunity for murder Source of threat Unknown Partner RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
24 May 2017 Ukraine Impunity for murder Unknown RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 24 May 2014, on the Sloviansk southern front, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon, who eventually managed to return to France. These three experienced reporters were in civilian dress and were travelling in a civilian taxi. They had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack. Their presence was known and they could not be mistaken for military personnel or parties to the conflict. An investigation was launched in Ukraine, which concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack. However many evidences and testimonies were not taken into account : William Roguelon, as well as other key witnesses, were never heard, the ballistic test did not manage to draw any useful conclusion. A complaint has been filed also by William Roguelon in France, and by the Rocchelli family in Italy, where there has been considerable progress in the investigation. Three years have passed since the date journalists were killed and the Ukrainian, French and Italian authorities cannot let this case go unpunished. They must collaborate and take all appropriate action so as the authors of this attack against journalists do not remain unpunished.

Updates

17 Jul 2017 : On 30 June 2017, Vitaliy Markiv, a 28-year-old Italian-Ukrainian citizen was arrested in Bologna in the framework of the investigation into the death of Andrea Rocchelli.

State replies

13 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

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On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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