First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin wants to criminalize “defamation,” which, unlike libel, can include true statements. At least within shooting range of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, this would silence all those unpleasant accusations of selective justice, judicial dependence and dubious court rulings.
After public pressure killed an attempt in parliament to criminalize libel last October, many on both sides warned the battle was not over. Those forecasts appear to be coming true.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have cautioned Ukraine against a new attempt to introduce criminal liability for slander.
Media activists from Russia and the Ukraine called for urgent EU and civil society help to protect press freedom in their counties at a public meeting held in Brussels on Nov. 26. They proposed establishing an international Pen Centre, holding “mega-forums” and adopting charts, similar to those used in the run-up to the Helsinki process.
Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski has said that there is no censorship in Ukraine, although there are problems with the expression of opinion by citizens in the media.
Bowing to international criticism, 349 lawmakers out of 450 in the Verkhovna Rada voted on Oct. 2 to rescind a draconian libel law that would have imprisoned journalists for defamation.
BRUSSELS – Concerns have eased in the European Union over Ukraine's plans to criminalize libel, as the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, cancelled its decision to pass the bill at first reading.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has welcomed parliament's decision to cancel a draft law introducing amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine concerning the tightening of responsibility for infringement on honor, dignity and business reputation, which was earlier passed at first reading.
A total of 349 lawmakers out of 450 in the Verkhovna Rada voted this morning to rescind a draconian libel law that would have imprisoned journalists for defamation. The reversal comes two weeks after a majority in the same body -- 244 lawmakers -- voted for the legislation in the first reading.
Lawmakers backed down in the face of overwhelming international and domestic criticism, including from President Viktor Yanukovych, after his pro-presidential Party of Regions supported the law along with the Communist Party and members of Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc.
"I consider this a victory of civil society and journalists in particular," said Arseniy Yatseniuk, the opposition leader. He also said that he rescheduled a meeting with Yulia Tymoshenko to make it to the vote. The jailed former prime minister is now in a Kharkiv hospital, where she is being treated for spinal hernia.
On October 2 journalists and citizens will stage the second protest against bill No. 11013 on the criminalization of slander authored by Regions Party parliamentary faction MP Vitaliy Zhuravsky.
The international non-governmental organization Freedom House has condemned the defamation bill and called on the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, to remove the bill from the agenda.
Famous Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov has offered to involve Ukrainian and international experts in improving the law on the protection of the honor and dignity of citizens.
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, will consider on Tuesday the question of canceling a bill on criminal liability for slander, Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn has said.
A draft law that calls for penalties of up to five years in jail for defamation passed a first reading in the Ukrainian Parliament on Sep. 18, with 244 MPs from the ruling Party of Regions and their allies voting in its favor.