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Politics 2019-04-15T05:38:56+03:00
Ukrainian news
Just One In 12 Criminal Cases For Offenses Against Journalists Comes To Trial

Just One In 12 Criminal Cases For Offenses Against Journalists Comes To Trial

Only one-twelfth of the criminal cases opened for offenses against journalists comes to trial. Thus, 645 criminal proceedings were registered through 2013 to January 2017 and notably 326 (50.6%) of them were closed as early as at the investigation stage. And merely 46 cases (7.1%) came to trial, while the rest 42% are still at the investigation stage, neither closed nor conveyed to court.

Ukrainian News Agency journalists made such conclusions in an article “It’s cheaper to beat a journalist than litigate” following analysis of statistics requested from law-enforcement agencies and law courts.
Data on the progress in the investigation into offences punishable under certain articles of the Penal Code of Ukraine were requested from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor-General’s Office (PGO), the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Judicial Administration. It is the usual Article 171 “Obstructing to journalists’ lawful professional activities” and four articles that emerged in 2015: 345-1 “Threat or violence upon a journalist,” 347-1 “Malicious destruction of or damage to a journalist’s property,” 348-1 “Infringement on a journalist’s life” and 349-1 “Taking a journalist hostage.”
Information from the National Police, 14 criminal cases were opened between 2005 and 2009 under Article 171. The investigation was completed in nine cases over this period. The National Police possesses no data about the number of cases conveyed to court as the reports did not provide for that.
In 2010, nine cases were opened under this article, the investigation was completed in eight and same was sent to court. In 2011, three cases were opened and the investigation was completed on five. And in 2012, four cases were opened and four sent to court.
According to the National Police, 17 cases were conveyed to court over the three years, nine of them in 2011 and 2012.
After the tragic events during the EuroMaidan—an interesting tendency—the number of criminal cases for obstructing journalists’ work has not been falling. After the ‘hot’ 2013 and 2014, when 182 and 152 criminal cases were registered, the figures dropped to 120 in 2015 and jumped to 176 in 2016. In January 2017 alone 15 more such cases were registered.
The new Penal Code articles that appeared in 2015 are of low demand: 64 criminal cases were opened, nine of them closed and eight sent to courts. In 54 cases it was threats to or violence upon journalists. In nine cases it was malicious destruction of journalists’ equipment and property, but none still has come to trial. At last, a criminal case was opened in 2016 for an infringement on a journalists’ life but was closed at the investigation stage in the same year.
The Security Service provided separate information. Between 2005 and 2017, they investigated four criminal cases under Article 171. One of them was closed and the investigation in the remaining three continues.
In 2015, courts passed just three decisions in the cases qualified under Article 171, and merely four in 2016.
By itself stand the cases under Article 345-1 “Threat or violence upon a journalist.” Information from the State Judicial Administration, a judgment of conviction was handed down in 2015 under Part 2 of this Article, which carries a punishment of up to five years in prison, and another one in 2016 under Part 3, five to 12 years in prison.
However, both judgements are not on the Unified State Register of Court Judgements of Ukraine.

This piece is part of the campaign to fight impunity for the offences committed against journalists.
Ukrainian News Agency is an official partner for the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists in this campaign.