of the Delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council open debate on
"Protection of Civilians: Protection of Journalists"
New York, 27 May 201
Mister President, distinguished Members of the Council,
Firstly I would like to express our gratitude to the Lithuanian Presidency for holding this debate on the Protection of Journalists. Let me also thank Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson for his comprehensive briefing. Ukraine aligns itself with the statement made by EU Delegation on this matter.
(My Delegation appreciates a Draft Resolution 2222 adopted today and we are proud to be one of co-sponsors of this document)
Today's subject is particularly sensitive for my country, which is now continuing to struggle against Russian hybrid aggression, and we are grateful for giving us an opportunity to make some remarks, that are important, in our opinion.
No one doubts that nowadays information impacts directly on the main global political processes. The last two years the world has witnessed a steady growth of the number of journalists who were killed or injured while performing their professional duties.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for this unacceptable situation is an increase of the number of zones of instability, imperfect international legal mechanisms to protect journalists, impunity of those who commit crimes and who create obstacles to the journalists' professional activity.
Ukraine believes that free, independent, responsible and professional journalism - is the basis of modern civil democratic society. My country supports all international mechanisms aimed at strengthening the protection of journalists in the world, in particular those promoted by the UN Human Rights Council. Ukraine is also actively engaged in UNESCO's work to strengthen the intergovernmental response to the acts of violence and aggression against journalists working in areas of high risk and danger.
My country is a strong supporter of comprehensive and practical implementation of the principles laid down in the "UN Plan of action on the safety of journalists". We consider it as a significant document for the global counteraction against impunity of persons and criminal entities who threaten media directly in the hot spots.
Strengthening of the professional NGO's activity worldwide could also become an important element of efforts aimed at the general improvement of the journalists’ security. These NGOs should continue to attract governments’ attention to the shortcomings of the existing practices of the physical and legal protection of media representatives. We believe that close cooperation between different governmental agencies and NGOs could give a positive impulse, including the revision of the list of new spheres of informational activity, where journalists should have same rights as if they work in the zones of instability, for example in the blogosphere and social media networks.
Ukraine strongly believes in the necessity to improve an international expert work aimed to upgrade the processes of investigation and making accountable those who affect the legitimate right of journalists who work into the zones of instability.
We also pay tribute to the journalists who died or were injured, performing professional duties. Our country will remain an active supporter of free and secure journalism and considers the UN and its Security Council as a first and foremost actor in strengthening their basic rights and freedoms at the global level.
I am proud to say that in Ukraine, despite all internal difficulties we are made to go through, an independent journalism which represents all existing opinions has become a reality. It now serves as a powerful tool of continuing democratic transformations in our society and reflects current need of our people to live in the atmosphere of freedom of speech and expression; to live in the country where you feel no threat to be imprisoned for your position that doesn't coincide with the official one.
Our national independent journalism has been one of major factors that inspired a Revolution of Dignity more than one year ago: because of many impartial investigations of Ukrainian media and courageous journalists our society discovered all terrifying aspects of life and corruption of the previous pro-Russian regime. Ukrainian journalists became a real "fourth branch of power" and formed a strong public control over our governmental officials and politicians that leads to more transparent and democratic public sector.
The Government of Ukraine and its competent agencies are doing their utmost in order to protect journalists. 14 May 2015 our Parliament adopted the Law “On the amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the strengthening of the guarantees of the lawful professional activities of journalists in Ukraine". This Law envisages additional security guarantees for lawful professional activities of journalists, including through the changes to the Criminal Code of Ukraine concerning strengthening the responsibility for threatening journalists in connection with their professional activities, attempts on the life of journalists, deliberate destruction or damage of their property. The Law also provides for additional social guarantees for journalists and their families.
For over a year Ukraine has been suffering from the aggression of the Russian Federation which has occupied the part of our sovereign territory – Autonomous Republic of Crimea – and continues its hostile military actions against our country in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. All those factors have gravely impacted the journalists working in Ukraine having brought the number of crimes against them to the mark that is higher than it was throughout the entire history of our independence.
Our own example clearly shows to the entire world that information could be used not to promote democratic values and principles, but as a method to inspire, fuel and maintain exported conflicts, to brainwash citizens on the both sides of the border and to lie about real reasons and consequences of this impertinent military aggression in the center of Europe.
Since the beginning of the crisis Ukrainians and the world felt and saw the obvious distinction between international independent journalism and Russian propaganda-style production with ridiculous theatrical TV scenes made, majorly, for "internal consumption". Such activity of Kremlin-controlled media directly violates the European Convention on transborder television, signed by Russia in 2006. Unfortunately, this Convention is one more international document that this country simply ignores as it doesn't exist.
Reports of all international monitoring missions convincingly and factually demonstrate that numerous cases of violence against members of the media continue to be committed by Russia-backed illegal armed groups in Donbas, as well as authorities exercising de facto control in the occupied Crimea.
Murders, physical assaults, kidnappings, intimidation and threats against journalists are among most grave human rights’ violations there. Moreover, the ongoing hostilities and violations of the cease-fire regime by militants in Eastern Ukraine continued to jeopardize the safety of journalists in Donbas, where Ukrainian TV channels had been long ago illegally cut off and replaced by state propaganda television channels from the Russian Federation.
Against this backdrop we continue to witness a real information war of Russian state-controlled media aimed to destroy peace and security in Ukraine. Anti-Ukrainian falsifications by the Russian media defy norms of journalistic ethics and human morality, crudely incite inter-ethnic hatred. The Russian state media are being widely utilized by the Russian authorities to disseminate propaganda, violence and to promote aggressive nationalism and chauvinism, which runs counter to a number of the UN Charter principles and commitments.
We emphasize that the overall media freedom situation in the affected regions of Ukraine and the steps undertaken by the Ukrainian Government to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms should be perceived against the backdrop of the security challenges stemming from the aggressive actions and subversion pursued by the Russian Federation towards Ukraine, including through support to illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine.
We strongly condemn all attacks against journalists in Eastern Ukraine and worldwide and fully share the view that journalists’ safety must be guaranteed at all times.
Finally, Mr. President, let me conclude by reiterating the Ukrainian Government’s commitment to further safeguard and promote media freedom and protection of journalists in the country in full accordance with our international commitments and standards.
I thank you, Mr. President