UNESCO organized for the first time with the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Ukraine a training for law enforcement officers on freedom of expression and safety of journalists in Kiev from 13 to 15 February 2018, in collaboration with several Ukrainian ministries and organizations from the civil society.
The project entitled “Promoting Human Rights and the Rule of Law through Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists in Ukraine” aimed at fostering a dialogue and establishing professional relations between the law enforcement officers and the media sector during a transitional period of reform for state institutions in Ukraine.
The 3 day workshop was organized in Ukrinform, the National Press Agency of Ukraine, in Kiev, and was attended by 23 police officers and officials of the Ministry of internal Affairs (of which half were women) and eight journalists for the last day. The police officers came from Kiev and other cities of the country and represented various departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Police: Academy of Police, Human Rights Department, Communication Department and Department of Cooperation with the Public and Complaints of Citizens.
« This is the first time I do this kind of training », explained Ms Oksana Zayets, 27 years old, from the Department of Human Rights of the National Police of Ukraine. “The practical aspects was a strong component of this workshop. I had the opportunity to practice skills I will able to apply to many situations in relation with journalists. As police officers, we deal with journalists all the time and it is essential that we are well train to deal with them ».
Mr Sergiy Kyslytsya, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, who initiated the project in Ukraine, declared at the workshop’s opening ceremony: “Human rights, rights of journalists and their safety besides being very politicized are highly technical issues, which are impossible to tackle at the emotional level. Therefore, high-quality education is needed to provide respective knowledge to journalists and law enforcers on safety of journalists. That is why this training by UNESCO is extremely important.”
Ms Emine Dzaparova, Vice Minister of Information Policy also highlighted the importance of strengthening such efforts: “Protecting professional journalism is one of the priorities of my Ministry. This training is aimed at strengthening the cooperation between law enforcement agencies and journalists. Without a mutual understanding of the fundamental values needed to build democratic societies, there is no way forward. Practically, this training is part of wider efforts to establish a new social agreement between law enforcement officers and journalists as we share a common goal, which is to build an independent state.”
This project took place in the framework of the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, endorsed in April 2012 by the UN Chief Executives Board, the highest level coordination mechanism of the UN system. The UN Plan of Action is further recognized by the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/163 adopted at its 68th Session on 18 December 2013. The UN Plan is a unique mechanism to systematically bring together all stakeholders, including the UN system, Member States, international and regional organizations, academia, and the media industry itself to solve the challenges tied to protecting the safety of journalists and combating impunity at the global, regional, and national levels.
This project has been jointly organized and implemented by UNESCO and EUAM Ukraine, and made possible with the support of the Republic of Lithuania. Other partners for this project included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Information Policy, the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO, the Ukrainian National Police, Ukrinform (National News Agency of Ukraine), the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, and the Institute of Mass Information.
The project was also implemented in the framework of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The Programme provides support for media projects and seeks to secure a healthy environment free, independent and pluralistic media.