Preventing going to court with legal counseling for Ukrainian journalists

Liudmyla Pankratova, RDPI Executive Director, began her career working with the Council of Europe, OSCE, investigation journalism projects SCOOP and OCCRP. She led a team of lawyers in Natalia Sedletska’s case at the European Court of Human Rights. Rule 39 was applied denying access to the metadata from the journalist’s mobile phone and protecting the sources of information. Now Liudmyla is a member of the Independent Media Council considering non-compliance with the media law, international standards of media coverage and violations of journalistic ethics.

UNESCO: Could you please present yourself and introduce how you become committed to promoting media freedom?

Liudmyla Pankratova: The legal protection of journalists and media is a cross-cutting theme throughout the entire RPDI’s activity, from 2006 till now.

The legal protection of journalists and media is a highly important part of our activities. In 2019, RPDI provided legal support to Ukrainian media professionals 431 times (222 legal consultations, 130 pre-publication screenings, 59 pre-publication fact-checking screenings, legal representation in 20 cases).

UNESCO: What is the mission of the Organization you are working for?

Liudmyla Pankratova: RPDI is a non-governmental organization, successfully operating in Ukraine since 2006. Our mission is to contribute to democratic society building through the development of the professional, sustainable and pluralistic media in Ukraine.

UNESCO: What will you do thanks to the grant by the Global Media Defence Fund?

Liudmyla Pankratova: We plan to continue helping journalists facing threats, attacks, restrictions or judicial pressure. It is now critical to provide legal consultations, carry out pre-publication screenings and to assist journalists in legal documents conduction.

We will ensure that the interests of journalists at all stages of the judicial process are safeguarded, including, where appropriate, the European Court of Human Rights.

UNESCO: What will be the impact of this action?

Liudmyla Pankratova: To reduce the risks of legal actions against journalists we provide legal consultations and carry out pre-publication screenings. Also, we have a list of ongoing legal cases, both civil and criminal ones, for instance, the case on burning out of the car used for work purposes by the staff members of the Investigative TV-program “Schemes. Corruption in detail.

The project will significantly strengthen RPDI’s stream. As a total, in this and other projects, we plan to provide at least 100 pro bono legal consultations to journalists, carry out at least 20 pre-publication screenings and to provide legal representation to at least 12 journalists or media.

UNESCO: Any suggestions/recommendations you would like to make to UNESCO as administrator of the Global Media Defence Fund and to its donors?

Liudmyla Pankratova: In line with our activities, it would be great to have some policy recommendations for the effective interaction with the Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (Council of Europe)

Due to the increasing political pressure, journalists need more and more legal advice, so we hope that our continued efforts will make a critical input in media freedom promoting, and our partnership will last.