IFJ LAUNCHES INQUIRY INTO GONGADZE MURDER
A press-freedom advocate and outspoken critic of the Ukrainian government, Gongadze disappeared on 16 September 2000. His headless body was found two months later. An official investigation into Gongadze's murder has made little progress and his killers remain at large.
IFJ says its inquiry will not involve a forensic examination but focus on the political and social factors that have hindered a full investigation, the response of relevant state institutions and civil society to the case, and their role in advancing or hindering the investigation.
A working commission will conduct a fact-finding mission to Kiev early next year, and produce a final report by mid-2004. IFJ says recommendations from the report will serve as a basis for advocating policy changes in the Ukrainian media.
With Ukrainians heading to the polls in 2004, local journalists are girding themselves against possible government harassment and restrictions on their election reporting by publicly pledging to uphold journalistic ethics. On 10 November, more than 300 media owners and journalists adopted a Resolution on Principles of Media Conduct during the Election Campaign, the Open Society Institute reports.
The media owners pledged to create and disseminate programs that "envisage live discussions" of the presidential candidates and to refrain from interfering in their outlets' editorial policies. Journalists promised to respect the privacy of presidential candidates and to refrain from spreading unfounded accusations and false statements "that denigrate their honor and dignity."
The resolution was adopted at a forum organised by the International Renaissance Foundation in Kiev. Representatives of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the US Embassy were among the participants at the event, entitled the Second Forum of Journalists "For Elections Without Censorship."
Participants also urged Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to end the practice of dictating news coverage to the country's media outlets, a practice known as "temnyky." Human Rights Watch says media outlets who refuse to obey the president's instructions on what news to cover face a range of penalties, including cancelled licences, libel suits, demotions, pay cuts and tax audits.
Read Human Rights Watch's report on "temnyky": http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/ukraine0303/
Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=2090&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/53578/
- BBC Profile of Gongadze: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2257987.stm
- ARTICLE 19 Ukraine: http://www.article19.org.ua/indexe.html
- International Renaissance Foundation: http://www.irf.kiev.ua/eng/
(Image courtesy of IFJ)