On 26 May the draft of the law “On the introduction of changes to the Civil and Civil-Procedural Codes (on the right for information)” prepared by MPs Mykola Tomenko, Yuri Artemenko, Sergiy Gmyria and Eduard Matviychuk was presented to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine
M. Tomenko, the head of the Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, points out that the necessity of introducing changes into the Civil Code of Ukraine, which will come into effect on 1 January 2004, is caused by the adoption by the Supreme Rada in April 2003 of the Law of Ukraine “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine concerning the questions of guaranteeing and unhampered realization of citizens right for the freedom of speech” and by certain contradictions between the laws on information and the norms of the code concerning the right for information.
For instance, part 3 of Article 277 of the newly approved Civil Code of Ukraine reads: “any negative information spread about a person is regarded as false”. This provision may be interpreted ambiguously and will essentially complicate the practical application of the norms of the Code. It will noticeably restrict the right of citizens for spreading information. Such concepts of the Civil Code as “inviolability” of business reputation, private life, etc. would impede the society to obtain the needed information. So, it is proposed to make this norm more accurate and applicable, says M. Tomenko.
Besides, part 4 of Article 296 of the Civil Code “The right for using a name” incorrectly prohibits the use of the name of a person, which was detained, is suspected or accused of a crime, as well as the name of a person, which committed an administrative offence. According to this article, “… the name of a person, which was detained, or which is suspected or accused of some crime, may not be used (published) until the court verdict about his/her guilt comes into effect”. In the opinion of Tomenko, this norm essentially restricts the constitutional right for spreading information. Moreover, concealment of the facts of detention or accusation of some persons can inflict damage to these persons in case of the ungrounded accusation. According to the principle of the presumption of innocence, which is stipulated by the Ukrainian Constitution, Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine and a number of other normative acts, this norm seems to be superfluous.
Besides, Tomenko reckons that the norm stated in part 3 of this Article (“The information presented by an official in the framework of his service duties is authentic”) may not be regarded as correct. This norm may be considered as a certain pardon for the officials, and the application of this norm will cause the substantial collisions.
Yet, Tomenko points out that the new Civil Code will come into force only on 1 January 2004. Thus, the legislators have some time for the liquidation of drawbacks of the law by approving the changes proposed by MPs.
Tomenko hopes that the new Civil Code, which will operate since January 2004, will not contain the defects that will impede the realization of the freedom of speech and will not contradict other laws of Ukraine.