OSCE representative calls on Ukrainian authorities to drop legislative provisions endangering media freedom and free flow of information
VIENNA, 12 August 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović expressed her concern about a draft law on sanctions registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 8 August and approved in the first reading today.
The draft law allows authorities to prohibit or restrict television and radio channel retransmission; restrict or terminate media activities, including on the Internet; restrict or prohibit the production or distribution of printed materials; and restrict or terminate telecommunication services and public telecommunications network usage.
“I call on the members of the Verkhovna Rada to drop the provisions of the law endangering media freedom and pluralism and going against OSCE commitments on free expression and free media,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Oleksandr Turchinov, Chair of the Verkhovna Rada, today.
“I fully understand the national security concerns expressed by the Government of Ukraine in relation to the ongoing conflict, but this should not justify a disproportionate restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of the media,” Mijatović said. “The measures included in the draft law represent a clear violation of international standards and thus directly curtail the free flow of information and ideas – the concept that lies at the heart of free expression and free media. The draft law effectively reverses much of Ukraine’s progress in media freedom.”
Mijatović also reiterated her firm belief that in difficult and sensitive situations, such as Ukraine is in at the moment, media freedom and a plurality of opinions must be protected.
“All citizens must have the right to access all available information, irrespective of its source, without interference from the authorities and regardless of geographical or political boundaries, so that universally recognised human rights and democratic processes can be reaffirmed and strengthened,” Mijatović added.