Ukrainian Groups Appeal for Amendments to Access Law

7 June 2013

Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations are campaigning for the Ukrainian Parliament to adopt a bill that would allow for the improved enforcement of the 2012 access to information law.

The groups are urging the approval of Draft Law No. 0947 before summer recess. The draft law, pending since May 2012, includes amendments in more than 55 legislative acts and its key features would:

– Strengthen administrative sanctions for violation of the Access to Public Information Law, in particular with regard to infringement of the rules on proactive publication and use of public interest;

– Remove the presumption that all critical comments about a person are false, unless the commentator (e.g. journalist) proves otherwise, “which has had a chilling effect on the media freedom;” according to the statement;

– Provide public access to meetings of representative authorities (national parliament and local councils);

– Open information about activities of local authorities, their decisions and meetings, and strengthening transparency of information about budget expenditures and management of public property, prohibition to restrict access to general and detailed plans of cities and town;

– Improve transparency of public procurement, privatization and statistics, as well as of information held by financial institutions and monopolies;

– Require the publication of annual declarations of assets, income and expenses of public officials on the official web-sites;

– Bring legal provisions on state secrets in line with the Access to Public Information Law, in particular with regard to the public interest test;

– Balance the right to privacy with the freedom of information guarantees by amending the Data Protection Law and the Law on Archives.

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