Centre for Law and Democracy calls on the Ukrainian Parliament to adopt Draft Law No. 0947 before summer recess and align Ukrainian legislation with the new information laws that were passed in 2011. Draft amendments have been pending in the Parliament since May 2012 and are necessary for the proper implementation of the landmark 2011 Law of Ukraine on Access to Public Information, which has been recognized as one of the best right to information laws in the world.
Draft Law No. 0947 was prepared in 2011 by civil society experts and was submitted to the parliament by the Government in May 2012. It includes amendments to more than 55 legislative acts and provides, among others, the following important changes:
• Strengthening administrative sanctions for violation of the Access to Public Information Law, in particular with regard to infringement of the rules on proactive publication and consideration of the public interest;
• Removing 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;
• Providing public access to meetings of representative authorities (the national parliament and local councils);
• Making information about activities of local authorities open, including their decisions and meetings, and increasing the transparency of information about budget expenditures and management of public property, with a prohibition on restricting access to general and detailed plans of cities and towns;
• Improving transparency of public procurement and privatization processes and statistics, as well as of information held by financial institutions and monopolies;
• Publication of annual declarations of assets, income and expenses of public officials on the official websites;
• Bringing legal provisions on state secrets in line with the Access to Public Information Law, particularly with regard to the public interest test;
• Balancing the right to privacy with right to information guarantees by amending the Data Protection Law and the Law on Archives.
Free access to information held by public entities is a fundamental human right. It is an important guarantee that facilitates a number of other human rights and freedoms in a democratic society and helps to prevent and detect corruption and other official wrongdoing.
Centre for Law and Democracy therefore supports speedy adoption by the Ukrainian Parliament of the Draft Law No. 0947 in its final reading and its signing into law by the President. This is a crucial next step in guaranteeing the right to information in Ukraine and to set a positive example for other countries in the region.