Ukraine Parliament Delays Access to Information Law

23 September 2010

The Ukrainian parliament has delayed consideration of a proposed law on access to public information, and the bill faces significant obstacles, according to informed observers. 

Action was postponed in July despite expressions of support for a new law by the president and the speaker of the parliament, they told FreedomInfo.org. 

After the adoption of an initial draft in the first parliamentary reading in June 2009, the amended draft was rejected on July 9, 2010, and sent for revision to the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information. 

One person supporting the legislation wrote Freedominfo.org that the delay resulted from “a lack of political will as the law is quite progressive comparing to the current law on Information which, even though containing a couple of necessary guarantees, is very old and quite `Soviet.’ ” 

Top government officials supported the bill recently because of “the deterioration of media freedom situation in the country,” the observer commented, thus making it hard for members of Parliament to vote against it, so delay became a useful strategy and the committee had difficulty getting a quorum. 

The president, however, has said he will sign a bill if passed.

This week, the MP who submitted and advocated the proposal,  Andriy Shevchenko, was appointed the head of the committee.

The now former chairman of the committee was opposed to the proposed law, another informed observer said. 

The draft Law on Access to Public Information was developed by the broad coalition of civil society, media and government representatives (including the Ministry of Justice, Security Service, and MPs). The text of the law is the result of compromise, supporters say, and has received positive assessments from Article 19, the Council of Europe and International Media Support.

The text is available in Ukranian.

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