The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has slammed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decree imposing sanctions on over 400 individuals, including political figures and correspondents.
“While the government may not like or agree with the coverage, labeling journalists a potential threat to national security is not an appropriate response. In fact, this sweeping decree undermines Ukraine’s interests by blocking vital news and information that informs the global public about the country’s political crisis,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a Wednesday statement.
Poroshenko signed the decree on Wednesday sanctioning 90 entities and barring over 400 people, including several high-ranking individuals and journalists, from entering Ukraine for one year. The Ukrainian president said the sanctions would contribute to his country’s defense amid the conflict in the southeast.
According to CPJ, the 41 journalists and bloggers affected by the one-year entry ban come from 16 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Israel, Latvia and Russia.
“The decree, which was published on the presidential website, does not explain what press coverage Ukrainian authorities deem as a threat to national security,” CPJ said, stressing that it “deplores” Poroshenko’s decree.
The list of sanctions approved by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday includes reporter Antonio Pampliega who went missing in Syria in July. He disappeared along with two other Spanish journalists — Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre – on July 13. The three had traveled to Syria to report on the civil war in the country, which has also been struggling in its fight against Islamic State (ISIL) militants.
BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg and producer Emma Wells are among those included on the sanctions list. BBC Foreign Editor Andrew Roy said in a Wednesday statement that the sanctions are “a shameful attack on media freedom.”
The restrictive measures come amid a conflict in Ukraine’s southeast, where the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) have been striving to obtain more autonomy from Kiev.
During the special military operation that Kiev launched against DPR and LPR last year, the freedom of media has been repeatedly violated. According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a number of international journalists working in Ukraine have been kidnapped, tortured and killed since the start of the conflict.