The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir expressed on 23 January, the concern of a number of provisions of the draft law, dubbed “act of disinformation” in Ukraine, which on January 20, the Ministry of culture, youth and sports of Ukraine has put up for public discussion.
This is stated in the material published on the website of the organization.
“I understand the need to fight misinformation, especially in the context of the current conflict in and around Ukraine. But this should not be done at the expense of the freedom of mass media and state intervention in the content of media and the organization of journalistic activity in the country,” said Desir.
Desir stressed that Ukrainian legislation already has sufficient mechanisms to deal with the public threat information.
Desir diplomatic, but clear enough to comment on the provisions of the law relating to the activities of journalists identified in the project, and stressed that the proposed law significantly restricts the freedom of speech in Ukraine.
According to the draft of a new law aimed at combating misinformation, journalists will have to have a professional press card issued by the new organization (the Association of professional journalists of Ukraine), established in accordance with the law and established government. In addition, media content will have to follow a state-appointed special Commissioner who will have the right to identify misinformation and to impose various sanctions, including fines and blocking of online media. The bill also provides for various criminal charges and sanctions from huge fines to imprisonment for up to seven years.
“Fighting misinformation is a legitimate goal, says Desir. But the right of everyone to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution and its OSCE commitments and international obligations, should be fully respected, he said. – Self-regulation, support of professional standards of journalism and initiatives for fact-checking, independence of the media, the diversity of sources for refutation of false information and the development of media literacy are key components in the fight against the manipulation of information and of paramount importance to ensure access to reliable information.”
The representative noted that several associations, media and NGOs on freedom of the media, the national Union of journalists of Ukraine and the European Federation of journalists criticized the new draft law the Draft law “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine aimed at ensuring national information security and the right to access to truthful information”, mainly because it provides for excessive interference of state regulation and control in the media, harmful to the self-regulation of journalists.
Desir said that he is willing to engage in discussions with the authorities and to hold legal expertise of the draft law to ensure that it will not adversely affect media freedom and fully complies with international standards.