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Ombudsman criticizes bill on criminal responsibility for slander

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Sept. 19, 2012, 1:15 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska has said that the passing of the bill on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine on toughening punishments for the infringement of the honor, dignity and business reputation of a person at first reading was unjustified.
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Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska has said that the passing of the bill on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine on toughening punishments for the infringement of the honor, dignity and business reputation of a person at first reading was unjustified.

An open letter to the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, which was posted on the ombudsman's official Web site on Tuesday, reads that the sanctions proposed in the bill are too tough, and they could lead to significant infringements of freedom of speech, as well as imposing restraints on activities of the media.

The statement also reads that on August 2 Lutkovska noted that some of the bill's provisions are not in line with Ukraine's international obligations in the sphere of observing human rights.

Lutkovska called on the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada to organize public discussions of bill No. 11013 with the participation of people's deputies, Ukrainian and foreign experts, members of non-governmental organizations, and the media.

As reported, the Verkhovna Rada is planning to return to the legislation the notion of slander and introduce criminal responsibility for such actions.

Some 244 of the 347 MPs registered at the parliament's session on Tuesday voted at first reading for the bill on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine on the toughening of punishments for the infringement of the honor, dignity and business reputation of a person.

The author of the bill, a member of the Regions Party parliamentary faction Vitaliy Zhuravsky, registered the document in the parliament in July. The MP proposed to introduce the notions of slander and offence to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

The document was revised in September and the notion "offence" was removed from it.

The document proposes to add Article 145-1 entitled "Slander" to the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

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