Human Rights in Ukraine

Access to information

Governmental actions: as clear as mud


The Law “On Access to Public Information”, enacted on 9 May 2011, is considered one of the major achievements of the present Ukrainian government. However, since the law entered into force two months ago the situation of the accessibility of information seen no positive developments at all. Over 50 civil organisations, the members of the "New Citizen" civil campaign, have expressed their concern over the way the Cabinet of Ministers sabotaged the law in question. Ignoring the President's direct instructions the government has delayed the preparation of the regulatory documents required for the effective implementation of the law.(4)

Without the supportive legislative framework the law "On Access to Public Information" will remain purely a facade leaving government executives free to operate in the dark. The long list of unanswered requests for information regarding public expenses for municipal property utilised by high state officials or tax declarations of the people's deputies suggest that the Cabinet of Ministers, Verkhovna Rada and Presidential Administration all hold the new law in disregard.

Considering Yanukovych’s public demands for transparency in government, the President should be quick to reprimand the state officials to suppressing this action, before he himself is accused of hypocrisy or even complicity.


People First Comment: One of the ironies of Ukrainian law makers is that whilst they are very good at writing laws they seem completely incapable of writing the systems that enable them to work or empowering the courts with sufficient power to enforce them.  Take for example Deputies immunity from prosecution.  Nobody has ever written any control parameters thus deputies are free to use the law as they choose.  The live above the law yet they have the power to ensure that all other citizens adhere to it.

Was it really envisaged that the law of immunity would extend to their families so that their children can act like hoodlums and remain untouchable by the law? Was it really envisaged that their drivers would have the right to disregard traffic laws, drive like maniacs and when involved in accidents claim immunity through their boss?  Was it really envisaged that Deputies could behave like bandits and corporate raiders stealing all they choose leaving the victims with no recourse to the law?  If this was what the deputies envisaged then the law is an abomination that should be repealed at the earliest opportunity and the same goes for the law on access to information. 

 If this law is just a decoration designed to hoodwink the public and the international community then it is a complete waste of time.  If interested parties have to resort to the courts to gain the information the law entitles them to then it is seriously flawed. For societies to work in the modern age there is a fundamental need for transparency, without which corruption can never be beaten, inefficiencies can never be addressed and the country can never move forwards.  If law makers write self serving legislation without looking at how it is going to be implemented then they are simply the wrong law makers.

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