Publication

The press doesn’t want to be “built” in a new way

The Kharkiv regional organization of the party “Our Ukraine” (in the past – the party “Reforms and order”) and the public organization “Our Ukrainian youth” conducted on June 21 the artistic-political action “Let’s “build” the press in a new way”.

According to one of organizers of the action Kostiantyn Kanishev, the project of “The rules of accrediting representatives of mass media at the Kharkiv regional state administration” became the source of inspiration for its participants.

The Kharkiv human rights group at the request of the press-service of the deputy P. Yushchenko at the end of May gave a legal evaluation of “The rules of accrediting”. Our recommendations were submitted to the regional state administration. Below there is the document in full:


№ 47/05 dated May 25, 2005, Kharkiv

Kharkiv regional state administration

Department of interaction with mass media

and public relations

of the regional state administration apparatus


Recommendations regarding “The rules of accrediting representatives of mass media at the Kharkiv regional state administration”

The essence of the right for information is the possibility for everyone to freely gather, preserve, use and spread information orally, in writing or another way – according to one’s choice. The right for information, as well as freedom of speech, is an inalienable right not only of journalists, but any citizen, foreigner, person without citizenship and legal entity.

The Ukrainian government, according to the General declaration of human rights, being a party of the International pact on human and political rights and having signed the European convention on human frights, must protect the rights established by these documents. Such an obligation presupposes not only respecting these rights, but ensuring a legal and efficient system of promoting these rights and their implementation.

The basis of legal regulation of the right for information in Ukraine is the Constitution of Ukraine. The Constitutional grounds of the right for information are stated, first of all, in clauses 32, 34 and 40 of the fundamental Law. For almost 14 years of Ukraine’s independence the legislative base considerably changed to the direction of openness.

Particularly, clause 2 of the Law of Ukraine “About the order of elucidating activity of state government bodies and local self-government bodies in Ukraine by mass media” stresses that “state government bodies and local self-government bodies must provide mass media with full information about their activity, provide free access to it for journalists, except for cases presupposed by the Law of Ukraine “About state secret”. That is actually all journalists have the right for access to information in state government bodies, including the Kharkiv regional state administration. But in order to better organize the work of journalists in governmental institutions, law-makers established the institute of accreditation. According to clause 3 of the law “About the order of elucidating activity of state government bodies and local self-government bodies in Ukraine by mass media”, “accrediting journalists and technical workers of mass media at state government bodies and local self-government bodies in Ukraine is accomplished in these bodies by means of their registration on the basis an official request of mass media to a corresponding body…” Besides, clause 27 of the Law of Ukraine “About printed mass media (press) in Ukraine” established the norm according to which “editorials of printed mass media have the right on the basis of agreement with state bodies… to freely accredit at these bodies their journalists for a definite or indefinite term”. Thus, accreditation is voluntary, it is performed according to mass media editorials’ wish, the procedure of accreditation is informative, not licensing, no legislative act presupposes refusal in granting accreditation, that’s why refusal to grant accreditation is illegal at all. In Ukraine there are already precedents when editorials of newspapers won trials against local bodies of executive government (for example, the editor of the Kremin newspaper “Town’s news” Iryna Chornobay versus the Kremin district state administration). Accreditation can only be cancelled on the basis of circumstances distinctly stated in the legislation.  

The spirit of “The rules of accrediting representatives of mass media at the Kharkiv regional state administration” doesn’t conform to international and home norms of ensuring the right for access to information, contradicts the principle of transparency and publicity of activity of the state government bodies. “The rules” are of licensing character of accreditation, they put journalists in very narrow, ungrounded limits. The attempt of the authors of “The rules” to forbid submitting application for accreditation by fax or e-mail, to limit temporary accreditation only by 7 days, not to give accreditation to specialized editions, to cancel accreditation on the basis of “not elucidating activity of departments and other structural detachments of the regional state administration” during three months since the date of accreditation, even the order to video-film “only from a tripod” look far-fetched. They can be classified as an attempt to press mass media and interfere into their production process what is directly banned by clause 2 of the Law of Ukraine “About the order of elucidating activity of state government bodies and local self-government bodies in Ukraine by mass media”.  

That is why we suppose that the prepared project must be radically revised in the direction of ensuring wide democratization of the procedure of accrediting in the Kharkiv regional state administration. It would also be expedient, before the future approving, to give the revised project for preliminary familiarizing and discussing to representatives of mass media and the community.

Yuriy Chumak, member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Yevhen Zakharov, co-chairman of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group

RUPOR

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