APF journalism legal support center learned of rights violations in Penza
Penza, 27 April 2015. PenzaNews. The APF journalism legal support center (JLSC) will be adding the Penza region to the media rights violations map after the request of Pavel Polosin, PenzaNews agency editor-in-chief, made during the currently ongoing 2nd St. Petersburg independent regional and local media forum “Truth and Justice.”
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The regional issues were the topic of the report made deputy head of APF Executive Committee Natalya Kostenko, head of the JLSC, on Monday, April 27.
She said that seven regions were included in the “red” category of media danger after a year of investigation, due to frequent reports of violations, including murders and beatings.
“The second-tier danger category is composed of 16 regions where journalists experience threats, property damages, lawsuits, print run and broadcast hindrances, and even website takeovers. The third-tier danger category includes 7 regions where we added ones with unreasonable print tariffs, accreditation and copyright law violations, threats of layoffs and refusal to provide data requests from the media,” Natalya Kostenko explained.
According to her, they have made the decision to put three more regions – Krasnoyarsky Krai, and the Kostroma and Penza regions – to the map after this forum.
The country currently heads for increasing availability of information and strengthening civil control routines, and these tasks outlaw any attempts to hinder the actions of the media, said the head of the JLSC.
“Our center’s mission is to help you work in more comfortable conditions. It is indeed very hard to work like that on the regional level, and even worse on the municipal level, when they, to put it mildly, underrate you, the aim of your profession – to bring information to people. We want you to help us change the country for the better,” she said.
Natalya Kostenko asked the journalists to be more active in reporting all violations of their rights to the center to help gather and catalogue the data.
The APF representatives plan to address the Russian State Duma with a suggestion to increase the responsibility of public officials for refusing to provide information to the media, she added.
“Since a journalist is a special individual, we would like to reclassify such violations into a separate category and increase the punishment up to a fine of 10,000 rubles,” she explained.
In his turn, Andrei Krokhin, attorney of the Law Society of the City of Moscow, standing as the expert at the JLSC presentation, pointed out that some officials deliberately refrain from making any statements on accreditation procedures to prevent media workers from accessing an event.
“If there are no accreditation procedure details, that means the accrediting body sets no additional limitation. Which means the absence of such details does not mean nobody can receive accreditation,” he said.
The attorney urged the journalists to defend their rights, demand being allowed to the events and procedures they would like to report, and bring the issues to the court if refused.
Summing up the discussion, Natalya Kostenko announced that the most difficult information coverage situation has been on the municipal level, as the authorities find it unacceptable when journalists interfere with their work.
“We must change this trend,” the APF Executive Committee deputy head stressed.
In his comment on the discussion, the editor-in-chief of PenzaNews Pavel Polosin stated the APF experts have investigated the Penza violations reports in a most thorough fashion.
“The question asked yesterday was a very straightforward and accurate one: what should a media worker do if he not only is not allowed to visit an event, but does not even receive any news about the upcoming events. This issue caused a very lively discussion with many solution to the issue and I am glad to see it discussed on the forum today,” he said by phone.
The violations of the rights of journalists is an issue not limited to just a single media source or a single region, he added.
“According to lawyers, editorial staff of many media frequently see refusal to cooperate when a press service of a public body works not to disclose information but rather to withhold it. Moreover, sometimes the press services inform the media about the upcoming events in a selective fashion. My stance is that a press service should report the media about all upcoming events while a media source has the right to choose which one to report on,” he concluded.