The question of the obligation of the Ukrainian government to pass the law “On Access to Public Information”
To the President of the European Council,
Dear Mr. President,
Creative Union “TORO” as a representative of Ukrainian civil society organizations, would like to express our deep respect to you and our sincere hope for success at the next EU-Ukraine meeting. We recognize that Ukraine's integration into the European community is a strategic direction of our country, and that it promotes the development of democracy here. One of the cornerstones of this integration is transparency of government and its accountability to the electorate.
Transparency International is concerned about the high level of corruption in Ukraine. Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 prepared by Transparency International stated that corruption remains a very serious problem for Ukraine. Its rank in the special rating of corruptiveness of the countries of the world with 2.4 points from 10 possible (which corresponds to the 134th position among 178 countries-participants of the research) and general tempos of corruption spread in the state testify the necessity for decisive steps in order to save Ukraine and get out of the corruption abyss.
Creative Union “TORO” – Transparency International National Contact in Ukraine believes that the first of them should be the passage of the law “On Access to Public Information” (No. Before the summit convenes, we consider it most important to request that the question of the obligation of the Ukrainian government to Ukrainian society and international organizations, in particular, PACE – to pass the law “On Access to Public Information”, be raised with Draft Law No. 2763, “On Access to Public Information”, as introduced into Ukraine's Parliament on July 11, 2008, and supported in its first reading, is now being considered again by Ukrainian MPs. Many respected Ukrainian and international organizations have worked on this draft law, which we believe follows the pattern of proper European legislation. In 2009, However, despite numerous public promises of support for this legislation, Ukrainian legislators, using various excuses, have refused to pass this draft law. In particular, the representatives of the ruling party explain their reluctance by considering an “alternative” draft law, introduced on November 2, 2010, to be an improvement. However, independent experts believe that this alternative draft law introduces a number of provisions which will lead to the deterioration of freedom of speech in Ukraine. For example, it will allow documents normally open in most countries to be classified as closed or even prohibit the access to information. The authorities would also be allowed to claim material damage on the basis of journalists' reporting.
This would further restrict the range of open information and preserve state control of information. At present, the adoption of the initial draft law depends on the Party of Regions, headed by President Viktor Yanukovych.
Almost eighty countries have enacted laws on allowing public access to information. Among nations of the former Soviet Union, only Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have no such legislation in place. In fact, a 1992 Ukrainian law, “On information”, still allows state officials a right to restrict legitimate access to information, which we consider an abuse of freedom. Passing Draft Law 2763, “On Access to Public Information”, will contribute to the strengthening of European values and standards in Ukraine as well as reaffirm the genuine intentions of the Ukrainian government to integrate into the European community, ensuring freedom of speech and a transparent relationship with Ukrainian society.
This letter has the support of respected independent journalists and members of civil society organizations.
President of Creative Union “TORO”
04th of November, 2010
Creative Union “TORO” is a national contact in Ukraine of Transparency International – global anti-corruption Non-governmental organization, which has more than 90 national chapters and works in more than 100 countries of the world. The mission of Creative Union “TORO” is to introduce in Ukraine democratic procedures of citizens’ participation in forming and realization of state policy. You can learn more about the activity of organization at the web-page www.toro.org.ua.
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