Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OSCE media freedom watchdog welcomes Ukrainian President's pledge to support media pluralism, warns of negative developments

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, welcomedthe pledge by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to uphold media pluralism and honour OSCE media freedom commitments.

"I trust that your Administration will uphold and further develop Ukraine's great achievements in the field of media freedom and pluralism. Ukraine should persevere in its efforts toward achieving genuine media pluralism by, among other things, granting the opposition full and unhindered access to the media," wrote Mijatovic in a letter sent to President Yanukovich on 22 April.

The Representative also commended the new Administration's pledge to combat violence against the media as timely and expressed hope that it would translate into vigorous and resolute action to conclude the investigations into old and new cases of violence against media workers, including the murder of Ukrainska Pravda journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.

Mijatovic also highlighted negative developments that could threaten media pluralism. They included Yanukovich's decision to dissolve the national free speech commission, which was part of the presidential administration, on 2 April, and a change to the legal status of the new head of the state television.

"I would like to ask for your personal support in ensuring that this important advisory body, consisting of highly respected lawyers and media professionals who actively drafted liberal legislation and defended journalists, continues to operate. I also hope that the change of the legal status of the new head of the state television will not affect its independence and editorial policy," she said.

Mijatovic said her office would continue to follow developments in Ukraine, and offered support for reform of the media law. She added that Ukraine should complete the adoption of laws on public service broadcasting, access to information, privatization of media and ownership transparency.

"In order to achieve all this, it is of great importance that the Head of the Parliament's Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information is a representative of the parliamentary opposition. This long-established democratic tradition in the Verkhovna Rada has always been a guarantee for the adoption of advanced media legislation," said Mijatovic.

Press Release: OSCE. Published in Vienna on 23 April 2010.

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