While concerned about continuing cases of violence against journalists, Reporters Without Borders hails President Viktor Yanukovych’s promulgation on 3 February of the Access to Public Information Law and amendments to the Information Law.
“This is an important victory for media freedom and access to information in Ukraine,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities now have to respond to requests for information from journalists and the public within five days instead of 30 days. The rules for obtaining accreditation have also been simplified and a lot of information has been declassified. We will monitor the law’s implementation closely.”
Reporters Without Borders is posting a letter from New Citizen Civic Campaign thanking all the organizations that backed its campaign for the law’s adoption. New Citizen is a non-political alliance of about 50 independent civil society groups that advocate increased citizen influence in the political process and public affairs in Ukraine.
“On the 3rd of February, 2011, the President of Ukraine signed the Law on Access to Public Information which was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the 13th of January, 2011. The adoption of this law was one of the Council of Europe requirements that Ukraine committed to deliver in 2005.
We, representatives of civil society organizations and journalists, would like to express our sincere gratitude to the international institutions including the Council of Europe, OSCE, European Parliament, international donors and also such organizations as Reporters Without Borders and Article 19 for their recommendations and strong support throughout the protracted lobbying campaign for the enactment of this law.
This civic advocacy campaign was lobbying the access to public information legislation for the past six months and brought together more than 50 leading Ukrainian NGOs, as well as journalists and politicians.
The campaign informed Ukrainian society about the great importance of access to public information as well as filed appeals to Ukrainian authorities – the President of Ukraine, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and leading political parties – demanding that the Law on Access to Public Information should be adopted. Withal, on the eve of the EU-Ukraine Summit (Brussels, 22 November 2010) members of the New Citizen Partnership addressed Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, asking for his support in the lobbying campaign.
We sincerely believe that only due to these combined efforts the Law on Access to Public Information is adopted and Ukraine has an opportunity to have more transparent government and a chance for better informed society.
Let us again use this opportunity to express our gratitude for the comprehensive assistance during the lobbying campaign. We hope for your continuous support during the implementation stages of the Law on Public Information.
New Citizen Civic Campaign: Crimean Association of Free Journalists, Ukrainian National Environmental NGO “Mama-86”, Publishing house “Atlant-UMC”, Internews-Ukraine, Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, Civic Campaign “YOUTH GUARDS: The Youth Watches You!” (MVARTA), Debate Academy, NGO of the graduates from the National Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine “ELITE OF THE STATE”, All-Ukrainian NGO “Ukrainian Strategy”, Souspilnist Foundation, NGO “Centre UA”, “Bukvoyid”, Independent Media Union of Ukraine, Institute of Political Education , Institute of Mass Information , All-Ukrainian Youth Organization “Foundation of Regional Initiatives”, European Association of Ukrainians , Society Development Center, Committee of Voters of Ukraine, Center for Public Expertise, Media Law Institute , “My! Elections” Project, The Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives “Total Action for the Support of Human Rights and Democracy”, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union , National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, Center for Ukrainian Reform Education (CURE) , Public Initiative “Europe without Barriers”, HighWay Citizen Journalism Web-Portal, Independent Association of Broadcasters, Online Voting Project http://golosuemo.net , All-Ukrainian civic association “People authority, Freedom, Justice”, NGO UkrProstir, International Youth Organization “AIESEC Ukraine”, TORO Creative Union - Transparency International National Contact in Ukraine, Informational Press-Center , Public Diplomacy Fund, NGO “Kyiv Public Control”, Centre of Patriotic Programs Development, Community Consulting Group “PARTNER”, All-Ukrainian Civic Association “Successful Ukraine”, PAUCI, Green planet non-profit organization, Ukrainian Lawyer Bar Association, All-Ukrainian Center Of Business Assistance, All-Ukrainian Union National Solidarity, Democratic Alliance, NGO Centre of Political Studies and Analytics, All-Ukrainian Trade Union “People’s Solidarity”, Kyiv Independent Media Trade Union, INGO Ukrainian Hromada, European Associaion of Ukrainians, ASBL, Brussels.”
Although the law’s adoption is big step forward, media freedom continues to be in serious danger in Ukraine. Serhiy Rubashenko, the editor of the Nezavisimiy Kurier, sustained head injuries when he was attacked and beaten by two unidentified assailants on the night of 2 February. He is now in an intensive care unit and his condition is serious.
Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to create a proper system for protecting journalists so that their work does not put their lives in danger. This includes combating impunity for those who threaten and attack journalists, an area in which much needs to be done.
On 31 January, a Kiev district court upheld a decision by the prosecutor general's office's to close the criminal case against Gen. Oleksiy Pukach, a former senior intelligence official, on a charge of premeditated murder of the journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.