Georgiy Gongadze and freedom of expression in Ukraine

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Georgiy Gongadze—a journalist and longtime critic of human rights practices in Ukraine—was kidnapped and brutally murdered on 16th September 2000. A decapitated body was found two months later.

The European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Article 2(1), protecting the right to life. Authorities had failed to take seriously the numerous threats that Georgiy had encountered in the run up to his death. The Ukrainian government had also failed to conduct a serious, effective investigation into the journalist’s murder. According to the court, State authorities were more preoccupied with clearing the name of high level officials than with discovering the truth.

In 2018, the Committee of Ministers ruled that: “despite their previous decisions and after almost 18 years, the investigation into … the murder of G. Gongadze is still to be fully completed.” Several high level officials implicated in the crime—including the former president—remain at large.

Journalists in Ukraine continue to be threatened and assaulted on a regular basis. An effective protection system for their safety is yet to be established.

EIN has supported advocacy on this case, through helping to train the Ukrainian NGO lawyers from the the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union that are still monitoring the implementation, and having them present the case to the Committee of Ministers at an EIN briefing. Following this, the CM issued a strong Decision in September 2018, calling for an effective system for the protection of journalists in Ukraine and the full investigation of the Gongadze murder. The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union continue to monitor the case.