Trends of Fake News Distribution and Counteraction in Ukraine (Part-5): On changes in the professional activity of journalists in Ukraine during the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation and in the conditions of martial law
Author: Ludmyla Khotiun
The current doctrine of international humanitarian law (IHL) provides for two categories of journalists working in areas of active / inactive combat operations: military correspondents accredited to the armed forces and freelance journalists. Both categories are civilians, protected by the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 (GC IV) and the relevant provisions of the Additional Protocol of 1977 (AP I).
Regarding the first category of journalists: accompanied by the Armed Forces (AF) / accredited journalists: military correspondents, have a certificate of accreditation of a person following the Armed Forces.
Both categories are civilians who are on business trips in areas of active / inactive combat operations and are protected by IHL.
Improper presentation / use of information leads to real human losses. Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” provides for the possibility of interfering in the activities of the media and restricting the dissemination of certain information. The Decree of the President of the country and the Law on its approval “On the imposition of martial law in Ukraine” provide for restrictions on freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine.
Information is a powerful weapon, but with the onset of full-scale military invasion / aggression by the Russian Federation, journalistic information activities have certain limitations. The list of information limited to publication is determined by the Order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine dated 03.03.2022 № 73 “On the organization of interaction between the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other components of the Defense Forces and the media during the martial law” (Annex 2).
Restrictions apply to information that may lead to the enemy’s awareness of the actions of the Armed Forces, Territorial Defense, etc., or adversely affect measures to perform certain tasks under the legal regime of martial law. They can be: names of military units, facilities in areas of hostilities; number of weapons, military equipment, etc.; information on operations or systems of protection and defense of military facilities, etc.; information on the procedure for attracting forces and means of performing special tasks; on intelligence gathering, troop relocation and deployment; information on electronic warfare; search and rescue measures, etc. In particular, the ban on information aimed at justifying large-scale aggression by the Russian Federation, some propaganda on such issues.
The Order does not apply to issues that are not related in any way to the work of the Armed Forces and the Territorial Defense. Currently, unfortunately, there are no legal components, such as the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the regulation of information activities or its restriction in other matters.
Any information helps Moscow’s aggressors to adjust the fire and destroy buildings, destroy infrastructure and vulnerable points of the strategic support of urban life. Therefore, journalists should be careful about its publication, even if the law does not explicitly prohibit coverage of such issues.
In case of coverage of any information, journalists should use official sources, such as: military and civil administrations, the State Emergency Service, local authorities, etc. In case of independent collection of information, its publication should be coordinated with the Security Service of Ukraine and local administrations.
Despite the war and the temporary occupation of some areas, legal hotlines continue to operate in Ukraine. Media lawyers are involved in the consultations (by phone number), there is an opportunity to communicate via personal e-mail.
Candidate of Sciences in Social Communications, (PhD), Associate Professor, Mass and International Communication Department, Mass Media Faculty of Oles Honchar Dnirpo National University, Dnipro, Ukraine
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