CEDEM cooperated with Article 19 and prominent Ukrainian media NGOs (Anti-corruption Research and Education Centre, Human Rights Information Centre, Human Rights Platform and Regional Press Development Institute) and submitted its observations to the upcoming third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Ukraine. These observations will be considered by the Human Rights Council on its session in November 2017.
UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council. It is a cooperative process which reviews the human rights records of all UN Member States. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
In its submissions, CEDEM concentrated around the issues related to freedom of expression and the compliance of Ukraine with Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR. Key areas of concern, covered in the submissions, included:
- attacks on journalists, media workers and activists;
- media pluralism;
- restrictions on freedom of expression related to national security;
- access to public information;
- freedom of expression in Crimea and the Donbas.
The submitting organizations provided their recommendations which are needed to be implemented by Ukraine during the next review period to improve the situation with freedom of expression and freedom of information. Of those recommendations, the key ones include:
- for public authorities to publicly, unequivocally and systematically condemn all violence and attacks against all journalists and other media workers, as well as against activists;
- amend the Law on the reform of state-owned and communal print media and the Law on public service broadcasting of Ukraine to ensure reforms of state-owned media are implemented in line with international standards, guaranteeing that the Ukrainian population have access to independent, public service print and broadcast media;
- guarantee that legislation aimed at countering Russian propaganda is not used to unjustifiably restrict the right to freedom of expression, including by ensuring that the dissemination of films and other media content are only restricted on the basis of a court decision and individualised evidence that such restrictions are necessary and proportionate to a legitimate aim;
- ensure that any future mechanism aimed at blocking Internet content corresponds to the requirements of necessity and proportionality and that any such limitation shall only be enforced through court decisions;
- establish an independent body with responsibility for overseeing implementation of access to information legislation, with adequate financial resources; and appropriate safeguards to ensure its political independence;
- adopt Draft Law #4038a “On Whistleblower Protection and Disclosure of Information about Harm and Threat to the Public Interest”.
The submitting organizations believe that these main steps will create a more transparent media environment inside Ukraine and significantly improve the level of freedoms, guaranteed to the Ukrainian citizens.
Read full Joint submission text here.