(Kyiv) – Recent legislative amendment requires activists and journalists reporting on government corruption to file public declarations of their personal assets, Human Rights Watch said today. The new requirement is vague and could be used to deter or punish investigative journalists and partners of anti-corruption nongovernmental groups for doing their job.
Under the new amendment, activists and journalists working with independent organizations involved in anti-corruption work, as well as members of public councils, must publicly declare their personal assets – even though they do not receive public funding – in the same manner as state officials. President Petro Poroshenko, who signed the amendment on March 27, 2017, should initiate urgent steps to annul the new measure, which is an unjustified interference with freedom of expression and other rights protected by Ukraine’s human rights obligations.
“This new requirement is a slap in the face of Ukraine’s anti-corruption activists and its international partners who have been calling for a more transparent government,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The requirement conflates state officials, who have a responsibility to divulge their assets because they enjoy certain privileges of office and their work is funded by tax payers, with private citizens who report on issues of public interest.”