ARTICLE 19 stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of unprovoked acts of war by the Russian Federation. The assault is also an attack on the founding principles of the United Nations.
We underline that the free flow of information is vital at this time, including respect for a free and independent media and an open Internet. Across Ukraine, journalists, media workers and human rights defenders are playing an essential role in providing accurate and timely information about developments on the ground, including documenting violations of international law.
Russian military forces have targeted news outlets covering the war in Ukraine, alongside the destruction of key broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructure. We condemn the physical violence, cyberattacks, disinformation and all other weapons employed by the aggressor against the free and democratic Ukrainian press.
Within Russia, the war has intensified measures to repress the right to free expression. Across the country, thousands of protesters have been detained for expressing their opposition to the invasion. The authorities have threatened to fine or introduce blocking measures for independent Russian media that continue to report the truth in unprecedented conditions, or for expressing perceived dissenting or opposing views, while also ramping up efforts to restrict access to social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Under the obligations and conventions the Russian Federation freely signed, it must respect the right of journalists and media workers to cover developments independently. Journalists are never a legitimate target in military operations. We also call for an end to any action that denies access to the Internet, both within the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
ARTICLE 19 expresses our full support for a Commission of Inquiry to collect, consolidate and analyse evidence of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Russia in Ukraine. We also urge the Human Rights Council to establish a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation.
Amid ongoing grave violations of international law, including the UN Charter, we also urge Member States to suspend Russia’s membership to the Human Rights Council.
To be clear, these measures are inadequate to fully resolve the suffering of the people in Ukraine, but they are the least that should be done.