Plans to introduce strict rules for journalists were announced in the Verkhovna Rada

Plans to introduce strict rules for journalists were announced in the Verkhovna Rada

This week, on March 12th, the people’s deputy from the "People's Front" party Igor Lapin registered draft law No. 10139 in the Verkhovna Rada. The draft law proposes to establish criminal liability for the dissemination of false information in the media and the Internet.

According to the text of the document, if the draft law is adopted, punishment will follow regardless of whether the media deliberately spread false information or made a mistake. An unconscious violation of the law is fraught with a fine in the amount of 1,000 to 2,000 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (17,000-34,000 hryvnia), public work for up to 170 hours, or correctional labour for up to 2 years.

It is noted that a more severe punishment is stipulated in cases where there is the deliberate dissemination of false information, combined with either a charge of committing a serious or particularly serious crime during the electoral process with respect to candidates, party members - subjects of the electoral process, and candidates for the presidency of Ukraine. For these actions Igor Lapin (the author of the draft law) plans to impose punishment in the form of a fine from 2,000 to 3,000 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (34,000-51,000 hryvnia) or community service for up to 240 hours or correctional labour for up to 2 years.

It is planned to simplify the procedure for removing data that discredits honour and dignity in court, and with a certain severity of violations - to temporarily prohibit the release of media (if it is printed) or fully block it (if the media operates on the Internet).

The author of the draft law proposes to supplement the law on television and radio broadcasting with a ban on broadcasting programs and programs in which "the participation of the aggressor state in the armed aggression against Ukraine, the financing and material support of the aggressor state for terrorist organizations in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and the participation of citizens and regular troops of the aggressor state in direct clashes with the armed forces" is denied or justified.

The national Union of journalists of Ukraine called the scandalous bill No. 10139 another attack on the rights of journalists and stressed the fatigue of repelling attacks on journalists.

The draft law has already been opposed by such public organisations as "Platforma Prav Lyudyny", "Laboratoriya Tsyfrovoyi Bezpeky", "Freedom House", "Detector media", and others.

Earlier, in the monitoring of political and civil rights for 2018 the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta" stated that during the year a number of legislative acts were introduced in the Parliament that, if adopted, can help the authorities exert additional pressure on independent media. The initiators of these draft laws were mainly deputies from the coalition factions “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” and "People's Front". Under the auspices of countering "Russian hybrid aggression", these draft laws contain measures to significantly restrict freedom of speech and opinion in Ukraine. In addition, on November 20th the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine introduced draft law No. 9306, which stipulates criminal liability for libel. The authors of the draft law (deputies from the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko”) propose to introduce criminal liability for the deliberate distribution of deliberately false statements carried out "by the public demonstration of work in the media or on the Internet". The proposed sanction is a fine in the amount of 8,500 to 25,500 hryvnia, correctional labour for a period of one to two years, or restriction of freedom for a period of two to five years. At the time, the National Union of journalists of Ukraine said that it was a ban on the profession and called to boycott the draft law.

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