Ukrainian Access Law Needs Reform, OSI Report Says

8 December 2010

Ukraine’s access to information regime needs strengthening in a variety of ways, according to a report by the Open Society Institute.

A series of recommendations are contained in a four-country study in which requestors sought information, with mixed success.

Efforts are under way to revise the Ukranian law and parliament may deal with the topic again next week, according to persons familiar with the situation.

For the Ukraine, the report says that the classification of information listed as confidential by the government should be determined based on the Ukrainian law. Also, more uniformity is needed in access to official information in the government, local governments and state enterprises, the report said.

Amendments to the law are needed to allow for electronic requests for information.  A simplified mechanism of access is needed for the media.  There is a need to strengthen the responsibility of officials for not providing of information or providing of incomplete information, the report said. More information should be on websites, too. Also, there should be a national program for local authority’s presence on the internet.

Four-Country Study

The recommendations are contained in a report prepared by the Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation, Azerbaijan. OSI affiliates in four countries – Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan – made requests for public finance information and contributed to the report.

Hundreds of requests for information were made in the four countries and the results were tabulated and evaluated. The requests were submitted in each country during 2009 and 2010 by journalists, NGOs and citizens. They sought documents, descriptions of procedures and statistics, according to the report.

The highest level of responsiveness was in Georgia (80%) and the lowest in Ukraine (38%). The number of complete answers was the highest in Georgia and Azerbaijan, while in Ukraine only 38 out of 151 inquiries were responded to completely. Georgia also had the highest percentage of timely responses.  In looking at responses from ministries, the report found that “the situation was the best in Ukraine.”

The report is available in Azerbaijani, English and Russian at www.osi.az.

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