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Ukrainian journalist Natalia Sedletska (file photo)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the Ukrainian government not to access any data from the cell phone of RFE/RL investigative reporter Natalia Sedletska.

The September 18 order is in effect until October 18 to give Sedletska time to prepare a full complaint to the court.

The ECHR pledged to consider her appeal "as a matter of priority."

On August 27, Kyiv's Pechersk district court approved a request from the Prosecutor-General's Office to allow investigators to review all data from Sedletska's phone from July 1, 2016 through November 30, 2017.

The ruling stems from a criminal investigation into the alleged disclosure of state secrets to journalists in 2017 by Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spokeswoman Joanna Levison said earlier this month that the court's ruling is "inconsistent with Ukraine's own commitments to promote and protect a free press."

Sedletska is the host of Schemes, an award-winning anticorruption television program by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and Ukrainian Public Television.

The Schemes program reported on several investigations involving senior Ukrainian officials, including Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko, during the period in question.

The United States, the European Union, and international media watchdogs have expressed concern over the Ukrainian court ruling.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine posted on Twitter on September 5 that it could have "a chilling effect on press freedom and anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine."

Kyrgyzstan has been accused by rights organizations of failing to protect victims or adequately punish perpetrators of so-called bride kidnapping. (illustrative photo)

A report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has charged Kyrgyzstan with allowing systemic human-rights violations due to "a culture of abduction, rape, and forced marriage."

The report, in the form of a confidential inquiry conducted by two committee members, was commissioned after reports from 14 rights organizations accusing Bishkek of failing to protect victims or adequately punish perpetrators of so-called bride kidnapping. It was issued in Geneva on September 18.

The report found that victims are further hindered in their efforts to seek justice by their legal illiteracy and by the biases of many officials.

"Abduction of girls and women for child- or forced marriage should not be accepted as a cultural tradition, but must be prosecuted and punished as a crime that regularly involves rape of the victim," said report co-author Lia Nadaraia.

The UN committee called on Kyrgyzstan to bolster its legislation on the topic and to prevent, investigate, and punish crimes stemming from abductions and other sexual violence.

Kygyzstan has been ordered to report back to the committee by March 2019 on its actions.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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