UN Sepcial Repporteur on the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo presented the report on his visit to Ukraine (May 2007) to the participants of the 7th session of the Human Rights Council, according to the UN Office to Ukraine.
Ambeyi Ligabo stated that he had observed remarkable progress in democracy strengthening and civil society development by Ukraine since the country`s independence. Despite this, additional efforts were still required to strengthen media freedom and independence.
Also, he noted that proliferation of unprofessional publications and dependence on political and economic lobbies are among the most notable deficiencies in the media environment.
He was also concerned with the advocacy of racial and ethnic hatred by some media in Ukraine and recommended to improve quality of journalism through adequate training in media ethics, and on the importance of respecting human rights.
The Ukrainian representative Volodymyr Vasylenko disagreed with a number of Rapporteur`s conclusions and urged not to label Ukraine as a racist country.
He emphasized that after the Orange Revolution in 2004, the President of Ukraine and the Government undertook decisive measures to abolish censorship and provide favorable conditions for the unhindered enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
Volodymyr Vasylenko said that many of the observations, assessments, conclusions and recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur were well grounded and could be used for further promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Ukraine. At the same time the report contained some discrepancies and overstatements he said and invited the Special Rapporteur to cooperate with relevant Ukrainian agencies in order "to make his report more balanced and adequate".
Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo, a Kenyan national, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in August 2002. Before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, in which he has been holding key positions in the multilateral sector for several years, he was a renowned free lance writer and journalist in his country.
The mandate of Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression was established by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1993/45, and extended by the Human Rights Council by its decision 1/102. In accordance with this resolution, the purpose of the visit of the Special Rapporteur is to gather all relevant information of discrimination against, threats or use of violence and harassment, including persecution and intimidation, directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion as affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as to recommend remedial measures for such situations.
The UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights was established on 3 April 2006. Currently, it consists of 47 UN member-states. Ukraine was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council on 9 May 2006.