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Over a third of Ukrainian freelance journalists physically threatened or attacked since 2014, RPT study reveals

Over a third of Ukrainian freelance journalists physically threatened or attacked since 2014, RPT study reveals

36% of Ukrainian freelance journalists have received threats of physical violence or have been physically assaulted since 2014 because of their journalist activities, a recent survey by the Rory Peck Trust (RPT) and Ukraine partner the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) has revealed.

The study also reveals that almost half of those surveyed (48%) have never undertaken any hostile environment or first aid training, and more than half (59%) said they would like psychological support because of the challenges related to their profession.

This survey represents the first research of its kind looking specifically at the experiences and working conditions of local freelance journalists in Ukraine. It was undertaken more than three weeks in February-March 2017 and records the responses from almost 100 freelance journalists across the country. It forms the first part of a two-year project funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and conducted by the Rory Peck Trust with the Institute of Mass Information to support independent journalism in Ukraine by building the resilience of freelancers and their ability to work safely and responsibly.

"We plan to draw attention to the situation regarding the rights of Ukrainian freelance journalists and to take efforts to improve their ability to work safely. Freelancers are often an example of independent and responsible journalism, yet this very category of journalists remain the least protected," said IMI Executive Director, Oksana Romanuik.

RPT’s Head of Programmes, Mary O’Shea said: "Freelance journalists in Ukraine are facing threats and violence from multiple sources and in multiple forms - both physical and online, and this survey confirms that most lack the skills, support and resources to adequately protect themselves, making them especially vulnerable. RPT’s experience and expertise supporting the safety and welfare of freelancers makes us uniquely placed to partner with IMI to help strengthen the resilience of freelance journalists across Ukraine."

The findings of the survey will inform the next stage of the project’s activities, which includes training through a series of workshops on digital and psycho-social safety, risk assessment and responsible journalism. An online resource based on the curriculum will be launched, providing freelance journalists across the country with guidance and information to help them work safely and responsibly. Consultations and public events will also take place in Ukraine to raise awareness of the situation of its freelance journalists and the issues they face.
Image credit: â€‹Photojournalist covering the events seen against background of the massive fire set by protesters to prevent internal forces from crossing the barricade line. Kyiv, Ukraine. January 22, 2014. © Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons/Unframe

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