Reporters Without Borders urging Rada to reject bill criminalizing defamation

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Sept. 19, 2012, 4:26 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Reporters Without Borders have called on the Verkhovna Rada to vote down at second reading a bill criminalizing defamation.

Reporters Without Borders have called on the Verkhovna Rada to vote down at second reading a bill on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine suggesting increased responsibility for attacks on the honor, dignity and business reputation of a person."

"Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the Ukrainian parliament's approval at first reading yesterday (September 18) of a bill that would recriminalize defamation, and urges lawmakers to reverse this decision by rejecting the bill at second reading," the statement posted on the organization's Web site reads.

The organization believes that Ukraine will go eleven years back if it puts defamation back into the criminal code.

"It would run counter to the worldwide trend and would clearly violate the international conventions Ukraine has ratified, starting with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," the statement reads.

Reporters Without Borders noted that such a return to the past would have a major impact on the freedom of information in Ukraine and will lead to intimidation of journalists as well as self-censorship inside news organizations.

The organization has also called on Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, to make it clear to the Ukrainian government that the adoption of this bill would be incompatible with closer association with the European Union.

On September 18, the Verkhovna Rada passed at first reading a bill that reestablishes criminal responsibility for defamation.

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