3 December 2020

1390th meeting, 1-3 December 2020 (DH)


H46-30 Gongadze v. Ukraine (Application No. 34056/02)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document




The Deputies

1.         recalling that this case concerns different issues linked to the protection of the safety of journalists and other media actors, following the failure to protect a journalist whose life was threatened and the lack of effective investigation into his subsequent disappearance and killing;

As regards individual measures

2.         noted with profound concern that 20 years after Mr Gongadze’s abduction and murder, proceedings have not yet concluded and no tangible progress has been achieved either in the conclusion of the cassation proceedings related to Mr Pukach, one of the murder perpetrators, or in the criminal investigation into the instigation and organisation of the murder;

3.         called upon the Ukrainian authorities to provide information as soon as possible on the outcome of the cassation proceedings concerning the sentence imposed on Mr Pukach, and expressed their expectation that these proceedings be rapidly completed as they have already been pending for three years before the Supreme Court;

4.         strongly urged the authorities to ensure the swift completion of the investigation into the instigation and organisation of the murder, in accordance with Convention standards; invited them to provide detailed information as to the state and expected timeframes of the investigation, taking into account, amongst others, its transfer to the State Bureau of Investigations;

As regards general measures

5.         noted the information, including the statistical data, on the application of the criminal law provisions targeting crimes against journalists, which nevertheless does not conclusively demonstrate an improvement in the effectiveness of investigations; noted further with concern recent reports and NGO submissions on the low numbers of such investigations leading to concrete results;

6.         invited therefore the authorities to take all measures to ensure that complaints are properly registered, thoroughly and promptly investigated with a view to establishing any potential links with journalistic activities, including by means of comprehensive training and awareness-raising; to keep regular records of the progress of investigations; to analyse the impact of the new legislative framework to identify, where appropriate, the need to take additional targeted measures; noted also the establishment of a dedicated inter-agency coordination group on effective investigations, encouraged the authorities to make it fully operational and provide information as to the impact of its work;

7.         noted with interest the Parliamentary Hearings on security of journalists in Ukraine which led to the adoption of comprehensive recommendations in this domain, invited the authorities to continue their work on the implementation of these recommendations;

8.         reiterating their concern about the restrictive definition of journalist in the Criminal Code, stressed again that the Ukrainian authorities have an obligation under the Convention to take a proactive approach when dealing with threats and crimes against persons exercising their freedom of expression, regardless of their formal professional status;

9.         noting the recent registration of a draft law targeting this issue, called upon the authorities to amend the legislation in line with the Council of Europe standards, in particular, the Committee’s Recommendation to member States on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors (CM/Rec(2016)4), without limiting the protection to those formally recognised as journalists;

10.       as regards effective protection of the safety of journalists and other media actors in Ukraine, noted with interest the authorities’ ongoing work to establish a rapid response mechanism including an online platform, which would be a significant step forward, and encouraged them to keep the Committee informed of all developments in that regard;

11.       welcomed the development of a training course for judges, prosecutors and police officers on the protection of journalists, in cooperation with the Council of Europe; invited the authorities to ensure the rapid, broad roll out of the training, and to continue to make full use of the Council of Europe cooperation opportunities on all of the issues raised above, including the rapid response mechanism, inter-agency coordination group and legislative amendments;

12.       invited the authorities to submit an updated and consolidated action plan on the outstanding questions and ongoing developments by 1 July 2021 on all of the above issues.