Ukraine Needs Platform To Protect Freedom Of Speech, Rights Of Journalists - Union

Ukraine Needs Platform to Protect Freedom of Speech, Rights of Journalists - Union

KIEV (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 14th August, 2019) Ukraine should set up a platform to ensure the protection of freedom of speech and the rights of journalists, the head of the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists, Sergiy Tomilenko, said on Wednesday.

In June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's administration announced plans to create a council on freedom of speech that would include one representative from each editorial office of the national mass media.

"We need a platform to protect the freedom of speech and rights of journalists. But it must really work," Tomilenko said.

He said his support for Zelenskyy's initiative was moderate. Former President Petro Poroshenko had such a council as well, but it had only been used for formal paperwork and had last been convened in February 2018, Tomilenko added.

"I believe that the freedom of speech council will be effective, but only if it is public and includes members at such levels as: deputy attorney general, deputy foreign minister, presidential representative and the journalists themselves. The council should have regular meetings and be endorsed by the president," the journalist said.

He added that he had submitted an application to join the council but not heard back yet.

The toll of attacks on journalists in Ukraine is notorious, as confirmed by numerous international organizations and human rights groups. At least 12 journalists have been killed on the job since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Among them are Ukrainian journalist and writer Oles Buzina, reporter Pavel Sheremet, Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency photojournalist Andrei Stenin, Rossiya tv channel's Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, and Channel One cameraman Anatoly Klyan.

Many journalists have been accused of treason over their support for Luhansk and Donetsk, two eastern Ukrainian regions which proclaimed independence after what they considered to be a coup in Kiev in 2014. Such cases include Igor Guzhva, Vasily Muravitsky and RIA Novosti Ukraine portal head Kirill Vyshinsky, who has been in Ukrainian custody since last May.

Ukraine ranks 102nd out of 180 countries onthe Reporters Without Borders 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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