Ukraine Postpones Action on New Access Legislation

5 November 2010

The Ukrainian parliament has delayed action on a new Access to Public Information Law.

The bill was not brought up as planned on Nov. 2, but may be taken up in the near future.

Verkhovna Rada First Deputy Chairman Adam Martyniuk  sought the postponement, saying MP Andrii Shevchenko, the head of the parliamentary committee for freedom of speech and information and the author of the draft law, wanted to have additional consultations with factions of the parliament, according to a Ukrainian News Agency report.

The Kyiv Post recently carried an extensive article on the access to information situation in the Ukraine, authored by Mark Rachevych and Yuriy Onyshkiv.  They suggest that there will be further difficulties for the bill despite a commitment by President Viktor Yanukovych in July to ensure the bill get passed.

They reported:

“The nixed vote was seen by experts as another democratic milestone missed by the Yanukovych administration. Instead lawmakers from his allied Party of Regions party registered a different law, which it will consider on Nov. 5.

The Party of Regions have twice stalled the “right to know” bill’s adoption in July and October.

“The legislation is at a critical stage and further delay by Parliament would constitute a serious set-back for Ukraine’s progress on human rights,” according to a statement by ARTICLE 19 and International Media Support (IMS). 

ARTICLE 19 and IMS said: “Ukraine currently has a 1992 Law on Information which recognises the right to information but has been described by international bodies as “confusing” and having overly broad exemptions and access to information under it has been poor. The new law would solve many of those problems by imposing a progressive framework in line with international standards.”

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Council of Europe, have recently pressed for Ukraine to move forward with the Access to Public Information Law.

ARTICLE 19 and IMS also wrote:

On 5 October 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called on the Ukrainian parliament to adopt the Law on Access to Public Information as part of its legal reform agenda, specifically with regards to the fight against corruption, in its resolution on ‘The functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine’. The OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mjatovic, urged MPs and the Ukrainian government to enact the law during her visit to Kyiv on 13 October 2010.

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