World Association of News Publishers


Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 6 February 2013

Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 6 February 2013

Article ID:

16126

His Excellency Viktor Yanukovych
President of Ukraine
Kiev, Ukraine

 

Wednesday 6 February 2013.

 

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum to welcome the latest developments in the Georgy Gongadze murder inquiry. We are pleased that the perpetrator of the crime has been brought to justice, and the verdict is reassuring to the international community. At the same time, we urge your government to continue its investigations to ensure justice is fully served.

While encouraged by the sentencing to life in prison of former security official General Olexey Pukach for his part in the journalist’s murder, we are concerned by a number of issues that arose during and immediately after the trial.

Our first concern is that the trial was mostly closed to journalists, who were allowed to be present only for the verdict and sentencing. We implore you to ensure that trials, particularly those with clear public interest, and whose conclusions have such an impact on the public’s perception of justice in Ukraine, are open to the press to help guarantee the highest standards of judicial transparency.

As a consequence, our further concerns are based on reports supplied by public prosecutors. Under questioning, General Pukach reportedly testified that his actions were simply those of a man carrying out an order, but would not say what that order was, or who had issued it. The admission that he “accidentally strangled” Mr Gongadze during an interrogation, yet refused to name on whose behalf he was questioning the journalist, is deeply worrying.

We also call on you to do everything in your power to facilitate an inquiry into comments made by the General to reporters as he was led away from the trial. Inviting journalists to “ask Lytvyn and Kuchma about their motives and intentions,” the General claimed that they would “tell you everything.”

His comments would appear to directly implicate former President Kuchma and his chief of staff, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Mr President, we respectfully remind you that this murder case has been on-going now for thirteen years, and the widely held suspicion is that high-ranking members of both the political and security elite had a hand in Mr Gongadze’s abduction and brutal death. The General’s comments only serve to further ignite these suspicions.

On behalf of the world’s press, we urge you to continue on the path towards justice. The conclusion of this trial calls for further investigation, a perfect platform upon which to build on your commitment to a free press made during our 63rd World Newspaper Congress held in Kiev in September 2012.

It is clear from General Pukach’s comments that, while the perpetrator may have been convicted, the masterminds of Mr Gongadze’s murder remain at large. We respectfully call on you to end the impunity surrounding this case and help deliver justice to the Gongadze family and the wider journalistic community in Ukraine.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Jacob Mathew
President
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

 

Erik Bjerager
President
World Editors Forum

Author

Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2013-02-07 10:39

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...