Ukraine Bans 38 European Journalists and Bloggers over “National Interest, Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity"

Update: 11 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 17 Sep 2015 Country Ukraine Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
17 Sep 2015 Ukraine Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree banning up to 388 people, including at least 38 international journalists and bloggers from the country for one year. The President’s decree, which was signed yesterday 16 September 2015 and published on the presidential website, names 388 people who are accused of “representing an actual or potential threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The decree claims that the ban targets people involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The 31 journalists and seven bloggers named on the list are nationals of Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Rebublic of Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The original list included three BBC media staff members - Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, producer Emma Wells and cameraman Anton Chicherov - who were later removed from the ban list, media reported.

Updates

30 May 2016 : On 27 May 2016, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a presidential decree, enacting a decision of the National Security and Defence Council resolution of 20 May 2016, lifting sanctions on 29 foreign journalists. At the same time, the list has been updated to include 19 media executives of the Russian Federation broadcasters.

State replies

11 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on Ukraine's sanctions against media
17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Commissioner for Human Rights

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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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