Appeal to the Director of the State Film Agency and the Сhairman of the National Council on Television and Radio

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Member of Parliament of Ukraine

Interfactional Parliamentary Association
“For the Protection of Violated Rights of Citizens and
Against Political Repression
“Forbidden to Forbid”


Director
of the State Film Agency of Ukraine
Illenko P. Y.

Chairman
of the National Council on
Television and Radio
Artemenko Y. A.

.

MP Appeal

Concerning the ban on public broadcast
of films produced by the Russian Federation

Dear Pylyp Yuriyovych!

Dear Yuriy Anatoliyovych!

In 2014 – 2016, I, as Member of Parliament of Ukraine, have received numerous inquiries from the citizens of Ukraine, my constituents, concerning the ban on the broadcast of their favorite films and television shows produced in the USSR or the Russian Federation.

Furthermore, public appeals with regard to this issue have also been made by the unions of Ukrainian broadcasters (particularly, the Association of Media Attorneys), as well as by the broadcasting entities, for instance, “Media Group “Ukraine”. They have been expressing their concerns as to the infringement of their commercial rights to the previously imported films, which have now been banned, as well as the overall threat of introducing censorship in Ukraine under the guise of “being concerned about the national security” and “taking countermeasures in response to the aggressor state”.

Legal grounds for this ban were stipulated in: the Law of Ukraine “On amending several laws of Ukraine concerning the protection of information, television and radio space of Ukraine” dated February 5, 2015; the Resolution #1143 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine “On amending the Provision on state certificate granting the right to disseminate and broadcast films” dated December 2, 2015; “The lists of the individuals that pose a threat to national security” published by the Ministry of Culture on their site on August 8, 2015, and December 24, 2015, at the submission of the Security Service of Ukraine.

The agencies under your leadership are directly involved in this process by adopting decisions concerning the films banned from broadcast, publishing the lists of forbidden films, which “contain popularization, agitation, propaganda etc. of any actions of law enforcement, armed forces, other armed groups or military forces of the occupant state” (from the list on the site of the State Film Agency of Ukraine dated June 4, 2015).

Let me point out the non-selective nature of actions of public agencies enforcing the ban. They impose the ban on the entire series instead of a specific episode; all films produced starting from a specific year instead of solely propagandist production. This practice violates one of the main principles of the law – individual punishment and the prohibition of collective punishment.

Furthermore, the aforementioned acts of Ukrainian authorities blatantly contradict one of fundamental freedoms safeguarded in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) – the right to “freedom of expression”. “This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers” (Article 10). Similar norm is also stipulated in the Constitution of Ukraine – “each person shall have the right to freely collect, possess, use and disseminate information either in verbal, written or any other form – as he or she chooses” (Article 34). This ban on unrestricted dissemination of information, including through television media, also violates the acts of European institutions adopted specifically for these ends. Particularly, as laid down in the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “On protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis”, “Member states should not restrict the public’s access to information in times of crisis beyond the limitations allowed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and interpreted in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights” (paragraph 17). Moreover, it is noted that “national governments, media organizations, national or international governmental and non-governmental organizations should strive to ensure the protection of freedom of expression and information in times of crisis through dialogue and co-operation” (paragraph 27 of the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “On protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis”). Also, within the framework of the special treaty ratified by Ukraine – the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (1989), it is determined that “the Parties shall ensure freedom of expression and information in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and they shall guarantee freedom of reception and shall not restrict the retransmission on their territories of programme services which comply with the terms of this Convention” (Article 4). Therefore, the practice of non-selective bans, which Ukrainian authorities have now begun to follow, is clearly not supported by European legislative acts and practices.

Considering the aforementioned, I hereby kindly request you to:

  1. Take measures to restore the effect of requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine and international legal obligations ratified by Ukraine concerning the dissemination of the aforementioned matters within the limits of your authority and in the manner prescribed by Law.
  2. Inform of the existence of corresponding regulatory and legal framework with regard to general criteria, based on which certain films, performances of the actors and singers etc. are banned. Notify whether there are any clear requirements (criteria) for the ban or if this is an entirely subjective opinion of the experts or public officers working at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the National Council on Television and Radio.
  3. Provide information on whether the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine or the National Council on Television and Radio possesses an official conclusion on the legality of grounds, order and criteria used for the restriction (ban) on the aforementioned information.
  4. Provide the full list of the films and actors currently banned in Ukraine (if such is available) with attached copies of the documents, based on which such decisions were made.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned and guided by Article 16 of the Law of Ukraine “On the status of Member of Parliament of Ukraine”, I hereby kindly request you to consider this appeal and inform me of the results within the period determined by law.

 

Respectfully,

Member of Parliament of Ukraine                                                                 A. L. Derkach

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