Сoncern over persecution of UOJ journalists expressed in UN report

UN special rapporteurs call for actions to curb harassment of journalists

UN human rights defenders expressed grave concern over the harassment of journalists publishing information on violations of the rights of the UOC believers.

In a communication from the UN Special Rapporteurs Group to the state bodies of Ukraine, facts of intimidation and harassment of the staff of the Union of Orthodox Journalists Information Agency were noted, as well as a request was worded regarding the response of law enforcement agencies on this issue.

In the request, UN human rights defenders condemn cases of threats and acts of violence against Orthodox journalists and call on the Ukrainian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The request was sent back on October 30, 2018, the UN rapporteurs notified the Ukrainian authorities that they were waiting for a response within 60 days: “We would appreciate a response at your earlier convenience. After 60 days, this communication and any response received from Your Excellency's Government, will be made public on the UN Special Procedures communicatios reporting website. They will also be subsequently made available in the usual report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.”

However, no response followed.

Human rights activists recall the attack of right-wing radicals on the office of the Union of Orthodox Journalists information agency in Kiev on January 25, 2018, as well as other incidents involving human rights violations, and note that despite numerous complaints filed to the police in light of these events, the investigation has not been started.

“We express grave concern at these allegations, which, if confirmed, would amount to an emerging pattern of officially-sanctioned, directly or by omission, violations of the internationally-recognized rights to life and security of the person, to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and to religious freedom and belief, as set forth in articles 6, 9, 18, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR was ratified by Ukraine in 1973 and constitutes an international legal obligation,” the document says.

UN Special Rapporteurs refer to the Human Rights Council resolution 12/16, which intrinsically links the right to freedom of thought, conscience or religion with the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and encourages States to take all necessary measures to refrain from violations of these rights and to create conditions to prevent their reocurrence. “In view of the importance of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency’s Government to safeguard the rights of the above-mentioned person(s) in compliance with international instruments,” says the message from the United Nations.

Recall that in January 2018, people in balaclava with the symbols of the nationalist organization “S14”, included in the list of international terrorist organizations, broke into the office of the UOJ and blocked the work of the editorial board. For about an hour, they insulted journalists and provoked a conflict, with the police, which had arrived at the place, being inactive.

After the press conference “The attack on the editorial board of the Union of Orthodox Journalists”, during which Anna Poddubnaya, the director of the bews agency, told about the criminal attack on the editorial board that violates the freedom of speech, her personal data were added to the database of the scandalous Mirotvorets (Peacemaker) website.

As the UOJ reported, the group of UN special rapporteurs, which on September 30, 2018 appealed to the authorized state bodies of Ukraine with an information request about the violation of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, did not receive a response in a timely manner. The UOC Representation to European International Organizations regards it as an attempt to conceal the real situation with discrimination of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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