Ukraine’s Council of Churches urges government to finalize bill on media

Illustrative photo: Hubs.ua

Religious leaders called for a meeting in the relevant Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy to address the shortcomings of the bill.

On February 12, 2020, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations submitted its amendments to the bill "On Media," reports the website of the Institute for Religious Freedom.

According to the representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), Para 3 of Part 1 of Article 37 of bill No. 2693, which prohibits the dissemination of statements that discriminate against individuals or groups, is problematic.

The Law provides for a fine of UAH 23,615 to 236,150 for such statements.

"Such wording is extremely dangerous for the freedom of speech and expression because a wide range of proposals and initiatives can be called discriminatory," religious leaders believe. “For example, positive discrimination aimed at providing decent living conditions for people with special needs, large families, low-income groups of the population, ATO/ OOS veterans, etc.".

According to the Council of Churches, to achieve the goals stipulated by this clause of the draft law, Para 2 of Part 1 of Article 37 which prohibits the dissemination of " statements inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred or hatred against individuals or their groups" is enough, as well as practical implementation of the current Law of Ukraine "On Protection of Public Morality".

The AUCCRO also criticized the provisions of the bill "On Media", which prohibit religious organizations from establishing, owning or managing audio-visual media.

According to religious figures, this approach is unacceptable in a democratic, pluralistic and free society.

To overcome these shortcomings, the Council of Churches suggested that the leadership of the relevant Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy should hold a general council with the participation of the initiative co-authors and specialists from the Council of Churches.

As reported earlier, from February to July 17, 2020, Ukrainian parliamentarians plan to consider a number of bills that are of concern to the religious community. These are bill No 0931 and the bill "On Media".

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