October 1, 2004
International Inquiry Calls for Council of Europe to Act Over Gongadze Case
An international inquiry into the "tragic and brutal" killing of Ukrainian journalist Gyorgy Gongadze today issued a memorandum to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, calling on them to urge the secretariat of the Council to launch a new inquiry into the case.
After a preliminary investigation of these failures, the working commission of the inquiry - the International Federation of Journalists, the National Union of Journalists of the UK and Ireland, the Institute of Mass Information and the Gongadze Foundation - has compiled this memorandum so as to bring to the Council's attention the following areas in which there are strong grounds to believe there have been, and are currently, serious breaches of human rights as expressed in European conventions, Ukrainian and international law:
- The catalogue of errors an inconsistencies in the case committed by the Ukrainian general prosecutor and other officials in the first stages of the investigation;
- The recent announcement that a suspect is in custody, and the failure to bring to court, charge, or answer questions about this suspect;
- The manner in which the conduct of the case has been misreported to the Council of Europe and to the public;
- The Ukrainian authorities' failure to take into account in their investigations the so-called "Melnychenko tapes";
- The failure of the Ukrainian authorities to progress the investigation into the surveillance of Gongadze by interior ministry staff in the weeks prior to his murder and possible connections between this surveillance and the murder;
- The possible connections between the Gongadze case, that of former police officer Ihor Honcharov (deceased), and criminal activity within the ministry of internal affairs;
- The prima facie evidence of intimidation and harassment of officials who have tried to progress aspects of the case.
In November 2003, the inquiry was launched and a working commission was established in order to examine the apparent failure of legal and judicial processes into the Gongadze case and the reaction of institutions and civil society to the case.
"A new Council of Europe inquiry must widen its remit to deal with the serial failures of law enforcement, judicial and governmental procedures in Ukraine that have contributed to the non-resolution of the case," said the commission.
The commission is planning to discuss its initial findings with representatives of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg next week. The present memorandum has been produced by the commission and will be followed by a preliminary report, to be published by the end of 2004. Further details may be found at www.ifjgongadze.org.
For further information please contact the working commission members:
- Robert Shaw, IFJ - + 32 2 235 2207
- Simon Pirani, NUJ - +7 9166 225 407 (Until 03/10/2004)