Pressure by a Political Party to Replace a Member of the Public Broadcaster's Supervisory Board

Update: 28 Jun 2017 Resolved
Year 16 Mar 2017 Country Ukraine Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , Index Alert level Level 2
16 Mar 2017 Ukraine Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state RSF , Index Level 2

On 22 February 2017, the parliamentary fraction of Oleh Lyashko's Radical Party sent a letter to the National Broadcasting Council, requesting to replace the member it previously appointed to the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company, Vyacheslav Kozak, by another one, Valentyna Rudenko. The parliamentary fraction did not refer to any legal ground to do so. Members of the Supervisory Board and Mr Kozak's relatives say he is under pressure to sign a letter of «voluntary resignation». The Article 10 of the Law on the Public Broadcasting Service provides an exhaustive list of possible legal grounds for the revocation of Supervisory Board members and bans any revocation based on other grounds. Its Article 8 also prevents Supervisory Board members from «performing assignments for a political party». The members of the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine issued a statement on 14 March, denouncing political interferences into their work.

Resolved On 28 June 2017, following consideration of the response of the Ukrainian authorities, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

27 Jun 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

20 Mar 2017 : Independence of the Supervisory Board of the public broadcaster is of crucial importance for the reform of public broadcasting

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20 March 2018

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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