Amendments Approved to Ukrainian Access Law

18 April 2014

Amendments to the law in the Ukraine makes a variety of improvements related to access to information, according to a summary by the Media Law Institute on April 18.

The Parliament of Ukraine on March 27 passed the draft law No 0947 and the president signed it April 17.

“In terms of enhancing right to information, it appears a landmark law for Ukraine developed and advocated by the Media Law Institute experts with other fellow professionals for almost three years,” the institute wrote. The changes also deal with libel and the status of journalists.

The law “does not change the order of access to public information, the essence of that right or the ways to implement it,” the summary states, However, it “strengthens the obligation of the public authorities to provide relevant information; specifies in more detail those principles and mechanisms that were established by the information legislation from the very beginning; and widely aligns the terminology used in this regulatory sphere.”

Fines are added for ungrounded refusals to disclose information, for an untimely or incomplete provision of information, or the provision of false information.

The new law strengthens the requirements for public authorities to publish information on official websites. Local councils are to publish minutes of meetings of the local councils.

Changes aimed at fighting corruption include the required disclosure of information from the officials’ declarations of assets. In addition, any person will be entitled to receive information about the status of assets of the pension insurance fund and information from the Register of State Property Objects.

Access to a city master plan or detailed plan of the territory is guaranteed.

“The law provides for a greater access to archival and statistical information, with clearer rules on the state secret contained in a specialised law,” according to the summary.

The summary notes that no additional powers regarding the access law were given to Ukraine`s Ombudsman, commenting, “Therefore, the matter of effective and independent body remains on the table.

The use of most restrictive stamps is repealed, except for a secrecy grading.

The law also makes changes related to the confidentiality for personal data, with exceptions including about for information about the performance of official duties by civil servants.

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