The Ukrainian government has failed to protect journalists from serious crimes or deliver justice to victims according to Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The CPJ is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide and has recently released a new web project documenting high-profile murders of journalists around the world.
Commenting on the ongoing investigation into murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet, Simon said "We really see a lack of commitment, a lack of seriousness, and I think that’s reflected in a sense that Ukrainian journalists have that the government either is not able or not willing to defend press freedom – particularly at this critical moment in Ukraine’s history – so that journalists can work without fear."
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This apathy towards law enforcement harms the country’s international reputation, he mentioned.
“The authorities are either not committed or not able to investigate these crimes and bring those responsible to justice. [Poroshenko] promised us that there would be results, that there would be progress, he made specific commitments....that have not been fulfilled,” Simon says.
“[Inaction] sends a very clear message that those who murder or threaten in Ukraine can get away with it,” Simon claimed.
Some journalists have alleged that top state officials may be connected or associated with individuals who attempt to interfere in their work. In February, Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov – a close friend of President Petro Poroshenko – was accused of hiring personnel to follow and monitor a team of investigative journalists reporting on corruption.
“Investigative reporters in particular have been targeted,” Simon added.
According to the CPJ, 12 journalists have been murdered in Ukraine since 1992.