The international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, RSF) has published a reports on the work of its mission in Ukraine in connection with disappearance of independent journalist Heorhy Gongadze, Interfax-Ukraine reports. RSF condemns “serious shortcomings in the work of the Ukrainian law-enforcement bodies” handling the case. The reports points out that Prosecutor General Mykhailo Potebenko carried out investigation with the sole aim of dispelling suspicions of the involvement of top officials.
Reporters Without Borders also condemns “the contemptuous, if not malicious, attitude of the law enforcement personnel toward Gongadze’s kith and kin” and express “worry over numerous threats to and harassment of publications, which have been conducting their own investigations or supplying information about the Gongadze case.”
The organization recommends the Ukrainian leadership resume the investigation, appoint a new prosecutor general, carry out a new expert examination of the so-called Tarashcha body, and do their best to find its missing head, identify the date and cause of the journalist’s death, and find the individuals who did it.
RSF also advises conducting a detailed inquiry into the possible involvement of the authorities in the journalist’s disappearance and the threats he received in July 2000. One of the recommendations is to enact as soon as possible the law on ad hoc parliamentary investigative commissions and “take all measures possible to stop violence against journalists in Ukraine, so that they have an opportunity to work unopposed in complete safety.”
“If the authorities fail to display the political will in the next few months to clarify the disappearance of journalist Gongadze, Reporters Without Borders will recommend the Council of Europe suspend Ukraine’s membership,” the report says.
The report notes that the investigation of the journalist’s disappearance “fell hostage to tardiness and mistakes... The journalist’s family and some witnesses are being deliberately kept out. The journalist’s next of kin are being treated as an obstacle rather than persons who could help the investigation. These shortcomings are especially glaring as the journalist’s disappearance case becomes politicized,” the document says.