Ukraine: Defending Media Freedom

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The CEELI Institute is hosting training for Ukrainian lawyers dedicated to the legal defense of journalists and bloggers across their country. In cooperation with the Regional Press Development Institute (RPDI), a Kiev-based NGO, CEELI is bringing these lawyers together for a seminar in Prague, as a follow-up to similar programs that were held in April and October 2015. After focusing on topics such as the protection of whistle-blowers, libel laws, media self-regulation, and comparative EU media law, this next phase (March 2016) focuses both on experiences with pursuing Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) cases at the European Court of Human Rights, and with the legislative transformation affecting state media in Central Europe. The topics, selected by the RPDI, reflect the immediate challenges facing Ukraine today. As the country continues undergoing a deep and uncertain transition, the degree to which its reform efforts are successful will have a profound impact not only on Ukraine itself, but on the entire region. Facilitating the exchange of expertise and best practices between Ukrainian legal professionals and their colleagues from EU countries helps increase the chance that the reforms will succeed.

Strengthening Government Accountability in Ukraine

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UkraineIn September, the CEELI Institute worked together with a Ukrainian civil society organization (The Kyiv based Center for Civil Liberties) to train a network of Ukrainian citizens engaged in monitoring the conduct of law enforcement agencies, courts, and local government throughout the country. The project, named “OZONE” to signify its aim of promoting transparency, brought together regional leaders from across Ukraine to study best practices for projects promoting government accountability. The program focused particularly on communication strategies, including the development of useful and tangible reports as part of an accountability campaign, and effective communication of their efforts with the public and media. Participants examined other successful public monitoring campaigns, including a similar high profile court monitoring project in Georgia that has been run successfully for the past 7 years.

Our partner, the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), is itself a grass root organization which came to the forefront of Ukrainian civil society for their work during the Maidan uprisings of 2013-14. The CCL runs a number of human rights projects, including the pursuit of justice for those killed and injured in Maidan.
The OZONE network started originally as a public control tool to monitor police conduct during peaceful assemblies and to monitor court sessions related to the Maidan demonstrations; it has since expanded nationwide.

We believe that there is outstanding capacity and expertise among Ukrainian civil society, and that constructive citizen involvement is needed, especially in this phase of the difficult political and economic transition that Ukraine is undertaking.