Parliament supports new version of the Protection of Public Morality Act
The Verkhovna Rada has approved in its first reading a new version of the Law on the Protection of Public Morality, and the creation of a new special body – the National Commission on the Protection of Public Morality.
On 18 October draft Law № 7132 on Amendments to the Law on the Protection of Public Morality was adopted in its first reading. The draft law, prepared by a number of deputies from different factions, proposes amendments to a number of media laws. The draft law was supported by 263 Deputies out of the 390 registered.
The document says that State policy in the area of morality is State regulation and control, as well as the involvement of the public in carrying out State regulation and contol over observance of legislation on the protection of public morality.
The new body envisaged – the National Commission on the Protection of Public Morality would replace the present National Expert Commission on the Protection of Public Morality. It would, among other things, carry out public procurement for preparing and circulating social advertising and information material aimed at popularizing ethical values, spiritual and cultural heritage, etc. It would also establish the procedure for carrying out expert assessments of production and events which could be classified as harming public morality, or as being of an erotic nature, or containing elements of violence and brutality. The Commission would also be responsible for monitoring observance of legislation on advertising in the area of protection of public morality.
The draft law envisages establishing a minimum percentage of programmes on State and municipal television and radio popularizing “universal human values, spiritual and cultural heritage of Ukrainian society, the best examples of world literature, culture and art.
According to the draft law operators and providers of television communications providing services on posting, retaining and giving access to websites, as well as Internet connections, would be obliged when drawing up an agreement for such services to warn their clients of the ban on placing and circulating on telecommunication networks products which harm public morality, as well as about the restrictions in sale of products of an erotic nature. They would be obliged in the space of 24 hours to take measures restricting free access to sites or parts of sites defined by the National Commission as erotic.
Prophylactic or preventive measures against “negative impact on the physical, intellectual, moral and psychological development of children” would be ensured via:
– public procurement of special equipment enabling parents to control access to television programmes;
– encouraging TV and radio companies and providers to finance, draw up and circulate special equipment for parental control over the content of TV programmes to which children have access, as well as preparing and circulating special programmes restricting access by children to erotic or “immoral” information in television networks.
Violation of legislation on public morality would carry a fine of between 50 and 100 times the minimum wage before tax (for repeat offences within the space of a year – from 100 to 300 times) with confiscation of such products, as well as money gained through the sale of such products or holding of such events.
As reported, President Yanukovych on 9 December 2010 issued a decree on administrative reform which among other things envisaged the dissolution of the National Expert Commission on Public Morality. However the Cabinet of Ministers has not created a commission for this dissolution and the National Commission has continued its activities.
Later on 12 May 2011 only 12 Deputies voted for Draft Law No. 6532 which proposed amendments cancelling the Law on the Protection of Public Morality and the dissolution of the National Expert Commission for the Protection of Public Morality. Despite the President’s decree from 9 December 2010 and the fact that the draft Law had been supported at its first reading, the draft law was not supported by any members of the Party of the Regions, the Communist Party or the Party of Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn (these making up the ruling majority).
Not only did most of the deputies simply not vote, but one of the draft law’s co-authors, Pavlo Movchan, now refused to vote for what he had himself helped to formulate.
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