Politics 2023-11-15T04:45:37+02:00
Ukrainian news
Law on Media introduces elements of censorship and does not sufficiently take into account European Parliament

Law on Media introduces elements of censorship and does not sufficiently take into account European Parliament

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The main legal department of the Verkhovna Rada has called the Law on Media adopted by the Verkhovna Rada today insufficiently complying with the Constitutional norm prohibiting censorship, as well as insufficiently taking into account the directives of the European Parliament regarding the powers of the regulator - the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council.

At the same time, it is stated in the comments to this bill was adopted today.

"Insufficient consideration of the constitutional provision on the prohibition of censorship in Ukraine (Article 15 of the Constitution of Ukraine), since censorship, as noted by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine... is control by institutions of public power over the content and distribution of information with the aim of protecting the information space, i.e. direct or indirect actions of the state, aimed at limiting or even prohibiting the dissemination of information that it considers harmful or not necessary for society (and this is precisely what is attributed to the mandate of the National Council, which is especially illustrated by the right to determine the needs of consumers and the list of events of public importance)," it says in the remark.

Also, the Main Legal Department notes that the increased control of the National Council over the information space limits the constitutional right to freely collect, store, use and disseminate information orally, in writing or in another way, and the possibility of selective application of such control over a range of persons included in the bill undermines the fundamentality of the principle of equality and inadmissibility of discrimination for the national legal system of Ukraine.

The Administration emphasizes that the National Council receives the right together with the joint regulatory body or independently (part two of Article 36, Article 90) to set restrictions on the content of information that is allowed to be disseminated.

Among other things, it is about substantiating possible restrictions on issues of citizenship, religion, social origin or any other characteristic, and will also control the content of each issue of printed media in electronic or printed form (part seven of Article 48).

The Juridical Authority notes that the law does not sufficiently take into account the provisions of the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU regarding the legal status of the national regulator as an entity authorized to ensure pluralism, availability of information and internal fair competition.

Also, according to this law, the National Council receives part of the powers of the legislature and part of the powers of the executive branch of power, which does not correspond to the domestic constitutional model of the organization of state power.

"In our opinion, the correction of the mentioned defects requires a systematic clarification of the competence of the National Council with systematic consideration of the legislation of the European Union regarding the limits of regulation in the field of media, pluralism and competition, the powers of the legislative and executive branches of government," says the remark.

As earlier reported, the European Federation of Journalists calls on the Ukrainian government to postpone the bill On Media. This was stated by the General Secretary of the EFJ Ricardo Gutierrez in a post on his personal Twitter page.

Despite this call, the Council adopted the law On Media in the second reading and as a whole.

The provisions of the Law on Media on extrajudicial blocking of the media, expansion of the powers of the National Council, which were criticized by European institutions and Western media associations, remained unchanged in the wording of the bill until the second reading.

The American Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) suggests that the Verkhovna Rada abandon the final approval of bill 2693-d On Media, which was approved by the Parliament in the first reading on September 30.

CPJ emphasizes, in particular, referring to several publications (various links - ed.) of Ukrainian News that, if passed, the law will expand the powers of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, allowing it to regulate online and print publications, abolish the registration and license of any media, block online media without a court order, and require social media platforms and web browsers to remove content that is prohibited by law.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promises to take into account compliance with the EU's recommendations in the Law on Media when assessing the compliance of media legislation in the process of preparing for Ukraine's accession to the EU.

The bill was also criticized in the OSCE.

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine considers the adoption of the bill in the first reading "a step back from the standards of freedom of speech".