Media watchdog slams 'draconian' Ukraine draft law

12th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

Reporters without Borders on Tuesday condemned proposed legislation in Ukraine that would allow authorities to close media outlets on "security" grounds without going to court.

The controversial bill would allow Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council -- which is headed by the president -- to block local and international print, online, radio and TV media in the strife-torn country.

Lawmakers approved a first draft of a broader law containing the proposals Tuesday and are set to vote again on the legislation Thursday.

Reporters Without Borders said it "condemns the draconian restrictions on freedom of information" included in the law.

"This bill's definitive adoption would represent a major setback for freedom of information in Ukraine," said Johann Bihr, the head of the watchdog's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

"It gives the (authorities) exorbitant powers to order the broadest forms of censorship on the basis of extremely vague criteria and with no safeguards."

Journalists in the ex-Soviet state have come under increasing scrutiny during four months of fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country.

Ukraine and Russia have engaged in a virulent propaganda war over who is responsible for the crisis, with media on both sides becoming ever more partisan.

© 2014 AFP

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