President of Ukraine
23 January 2014
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum – which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 5,000 companies in more than 120 countries – and the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA) – which represents 3000 titles in Europe, to express our serious concern at the severe beating of journalist and activist Tatiana Chornovol and to urge you to ensure that it is investigated as a criminal incident.
According to reports, Ms Chornovol, whose articles are regularly published by the websites Ukrayinska Pravda and Levyy Bereg, was severely beaten in the early hours of 25 December, 2013, after her car was rammed and she was dragged from the vehicle. A few hours earlier, Ms Chornovol, who has reported extensively on alleged government misuse of state resources and the conspicuous wealth of officials, had posted information relating to a member of your government on her blog. She had also recently reported to a colleague that she had been followed by police officers in the course of her work. Ms Chornovol has also been active in supporting the Euromaidan protests.
We are concerned that the beating of Ms Chornovol may have been in retaliation for her investigative reporting and for exercising her right to freedom of expression.
We respectfully remind you of our meeting with you in September 2012 at which we expressed our concerns about the state of press freedom in your country and the urgent need for conditions that promote a strong, independent media. We remain seriously concerned that the government continues to foster a climate of media intimidation, including last week’s enactment of legal measures that limit Ukrainians' rights to protest, civic activism and free speech, including provisions that effectively criminalise defamation.
We respectfully call on you to ensure that the beating of Ms Chornovol is quickly and thoroughly investigated as a criminal incident and that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice. We also call on you to consider Ms Chornovol's case not only as a criminal case, but as a violation of Paragraph 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, pertaining to unlawfully preventing journalists from carrying out their professional duties.
We urge you to take all possible steps to ensure that in future Ukraine fully respects its international obligations to freedom of expression.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
European Newspaper Publishers' Association - ENPA
WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
ENPA is an international non-profit organisation representing publishers of newspapers and news media on all platforms. ENPA represents over 5,200 national, regional and local newspaper titles, published in many EU Member States, plus Norway, Switzerland and Serbia.
UAPP, Ukraine Association of Press Publisher
AIRPU, Association of Independent Regional Publishers Ukraine
Ms Darka Chepak, Head of the Interagency Working Group
Ms Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media