A Journalistic Community Strengthens its Influence on Situation with Human Rights Observance in Ukraine


The project titled “The Role of Journalism in Human Rights Advocacy and Protection: Strengthening the Influence of a Journalistic Community on the Situation with Human Rights Observance in Ukraine” is coming to an end. The project intended the development of the human rights culture in Ukraine by introducing an integral approach towards human rights education for journalists.

An educational course was developed and carried out for the journalists of all-Ukrainian and regional mass media. Twenty journalists motivated to work actively in the sphere of human rights from 11 regions of Ukraine were invited to participate in the course. The course participants deepened their knowledge in the sphere of human rights protection and gained practical work skills on accomplishing social changes. The journalists took part in two 7-day seminars and two distance sessions. In March 2012 the course graduates are going to Poland to become familiar with the standards in journalism accepted in Europe and to learn about the best practices of cooperation between journalistic and human rights communities of European countries in order to organize joint actions for the protection of human rights.

During the seminars, which were held in May and September 2011 in Chernihiv, the participants learned about the philosophy and history of human rights, international and national mechanisms of human rights protection and about the standards in covering human rights issues in mass media. They also became familiar with journalistic campaigns technologies and learned to conduct journalistic advocacy campaigns in the sphere of human rights. The participants had a chance to listen to well-known Ukrainian experts from journalistic and human rights communities such as Volodymyr Yavors’kyi, Yehor Sobolev, Svitlana Batsiukova, Roman Romanov, Alla Tiutiunnyk, Bohdan Kryklyvenko, Oleksander Burmahin, Ruslan Kraplych, Ihor Rozkladai, Viktoia Dobrians’ka,Serhii Burov, Oleksander Voitenko and others.

“I liked receiving practical tasks from people who are not just experts, but who also conduct their own journalistic investigations. We not only worked with finished articles, but also analyzed specific life cases, thus learning about the process itself. We were not limited to reading the articles,” Olena Rozkazova (the Maidan Paper, Drohobych, Ukraine) shared her impressions. “There has been a very successful selection of experts. They are involved in this work and know all legal aspects and innovations. The course has helped me a lot, because I don’t have journalistic education. I liked the approach – journalists and human rights defenders could share their experience with each other. The advocacy campaign, which I am planning within the framework of the course, is related to orphans with mental disabilities. I can examine the situation not only with the help of experts, but also the participants whom I became acquainted with and have been in contact since.”

Within the framework of the project the participants has already written more then sixty articles on urgent social topics. Now the graduates prepare full-fledged journalistic investigations of urgent and relevant issues and receive legal supervision and expert support from organizations partnering with the Understanding Human Rights All-Ukrainian Educational Program. All prepared materials are published on the Social Networking Website of Human Rights Activists and on the website of the Program.

“Such courses are very useful; they modify knowledge and reveal the structure of human rights actions.  At the training workshop I realized that my actions and activities carried out within the framework of the project are correct. Through mass media we influence the law-enforcement organs, public prosecution bodies and judges. So far we have acted at the subconscious level, and owing to the seminars I understood the structure of our activity and realized which spheres of the project should be strengthened and supplemented,” Oleksii Kyrienko (the Dorozhnii Kontrol’ all-Ukrainian Information and Legal Newspaper) mentioned.

According to the experts and trainers who were invited to participate in the program, all the journalists selected for the 2011 course have sufficient theoretical knowledge and are motivated to learn and work actively in the sphere of human rights protection. The experts emphasized a high intellectual level and intensity of discussions initiated during the seminar. In organizers’ opinion the mentioned factors guarantee good results of the long-term educational course.

“It is very good that journalists who work in various spheres are solving the same social problem. The entire group has chosen several topics according to personal interests, however all of them relate to the violation of human rights. I would say that we work as one team. I believe that my materials on the chosen problem (failure to provide medical aid in detention facilities) will supplement those measures that are being undertaken at present and will help in solving this problem at the legislative level,” Andrii Didenko, one of the course participants (the Human Rights Protection Group) said.

The manual on human rights for socially active journalists has been developed, edited and distributed among interested persons. The manual contains articles from the publication of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights entitled “Texts about Human Rights and Democracy” and the materials of the 2010 and 2011 educational courses “The Role of Journalism in Human Rights Advocacy and Protection”.

It is the second educational course for journalists within the framework of the Understanding Human Rights Program. Thus the course organizers promote the improvement of a quality of journalistic materials about social issues related to the violation of human rights by introducing an integral approach towards human rights education for journalists. After all they seek to form and popularize the human rights culture in Ukraine. In order to achieve the maximum result the Ministry of Education and Science will be recommended to introduce the developed educational course within the state system of education for journalists. 

“It is difficult to overestimate the role of a journalistic community in forming a human rights culture. However, unfortunately, the majority of Ukrainian journalists are not aware well enough of human rights and the available mechanisms of human rights protection, Kostiantyn Reuts’kyi, a human rights activist from Luhans’k commented the idea of the specialized course development.  “We are confident that the spreading of knowledge in the journalistic community and the creation of a network of journalists who are able to give a proper coverage of relevant social issues from the viewpoint of human rights will significantly improve the situation with the observance of human rights in our country.    This will require a lot of time and efforts, but the work has already begun. The results we achieved after the first two years when an integral system of human rights education for journalists was introduced give grounds for very serious projections.”

The project is a component of the Action Plan of the Understanding Human Rights All-Ukrainian Educational Program. It is administered by the Ukrainian Helsinki human Rights Union, the Human Rights Center “Postup” and the non-governmental organization M’ART. The financial assistance is provided by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Renaissance Foundation. 

The press center of the Human Rights Center “Postup”

Yiulia Krasyl’nykova