The Constitution of Ukraine (Article 34) and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Article 10) guarantee the right to freedom of expression.
Ensuring this right by the state is a condition for the establishment of democracy. In other words, democracy is impossible in a state in which the authorities arbitrarily restrict the said right.
In particular, freedom of expression guarantees the right to receive information of public interest to the public. In turn, the media should distribute such information and ideas in order to realize their role as a “guard of society.” According to the established case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the functions of the press can be performed by other persons: bloggers, public organizations, researchers, etc.
Draft Law No. 6688 proposes to broaden the concept of technological terrorism by adding “and/or aimed at violating public safety, intimidating the population, provoking a military conflict, international complication, influencing decision-making or committing or not taking action by public authorities or local self-government bodies, service persons of these bodies, associations of citizens, legal persons, or attraction of public attention to certain political, religious or other views of the perpetrator (terrorist)”
Accordingly, any discussion of the decisions of authorities in order to influence such decisions, if it occurs with the use of the Internet, can be recognized as technological terrorism.
We emphasize that the involvement of society in the decision-making process by authorities is the essence of democracy, which is ensured through freedom of expression.
Considering that the dissemination of information about decisions, actions (inaction) of the authorities in order to attract public attention to events that affect people’s lives and their welfare is the responsibility of the media, the proposed provisions of the draft law undermine the very essence of the right to freedom of expression of views, deny this right as such.
Thus, the proposed provisions of the Draft Law No. 6688 contradict Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Valeria Lutkovska, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights
Arkadiy Buschenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Yevhen Zakharov, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group