by the Independent Mass Media Union, Kyiv branch
A LAW PROJECT ABOUT THE PROTECTION OF THE INFORMATION SOURCES OF JOURNALISTS HAS BEEN DEPOSITED IN THE PARLIAMENT
Eleven deputies of the Parliament have registered a law project "About the amendments to be introduced into the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine * [see Note 1 below] - about the journalists' rights to protect the sources of their information"
The law project adds the profession of journalism to the list of those occupations that are exempt from the regular police interrogations about the contents of knowledge conferred to them by their clientele during the course of their work. This list now includes the notaries, the medical professionals, including psychologists, and the servitors of religious cults.
The project limits the right to make decisions to initiate the police searches and seizures of a journalist's equipment to some competent authorities, namely, the Judges on the level of the District Courts of Appeal, whose mandates must be motivated on the basis of requests by the District Public Prosecutors, who ought not fail to specifically mention that the search would be conducted at a journalist's premises.
This initiative is a practical result ot the Round Table conference "The Journalists and the Police: how to avoid confrontations?", which was held by the activists of the Independent Mass Media Union, Kyiv branch, and the journalists from the Information Agency "At Your Side", with the help of "InterNews". The technical details were worked out by a legal specialist Mr. Roman Holovenko from the Mass Media Institute, and by a member of the management of the Mass Media Union, Kyiv branch, Mr. Yuri Shelazhenko.
"At the present time, journalists are not protected from a police pressure tactics, even though there exist the legal norms about the protection of the sources of information. This happens because the Police relies on a narrow interpretation of
the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine * [see Note 1 below], wherein there is no mention of any such norm. The reality has lately furnished a sad example - the search and seizure of equipment of Ms. Olena Bilozerska, a professional journalist, - testified the Manager of the Independent Mass Media Union, Kyiv branch, Mr. Yuri Likanov.
The principal editor of the Information Agency "At Your Side", Ms. Olena Bilozerska has also made a direct contribution to the development of the Project of Law. "We do not intend to create a privileged citizen's category for the journalists, we insist only on the defense of the professional prerogatives, required for a successful accomplishment of our tasks. By the nature of the profession, journalists may find themselves in the possession of some confidential information. If its sources were not protected, it would be impossible to assure any future cooperation from informants", - explained Olena Bilozerska.
The Independent Mass Media Union appeals to all the deputies of the Parliament to support the Project of the Law, and expresses its gratitude to the eleven deputies * [see Note 2], at whose initiative the project was registered.
According to the legal tradition and the legislation of Ukraine, the Rules of Criminal Procedure constitute a Codex in its own right, parallel to the Criminal Code, and is therefore found under the jurisdiction of the Parliament - which is unlike the American tradition, wherein the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are traditionally a direct part of the responsibility of the Judicial branch of Government, up to the Supreme Court. In other words, it is the Courts, who establish, and modify, if necessary, under the pressure of case law, the current rules.
It is also unlike the Canadian system, wherein the Criminal Code is found under the responsibility of the Federal Government, but its implementation in practice is given to the competence of the Provincial Governments; thus, for instance, in Québec, - Le Code de procédure pénale.
Note 2. The names of all eleven members of the Parliament, at whose initiative the Law Project has been registered, are given in the Ukrainian text version of this Press Release, see: