Open appeal to the President of Ukraine in the connection with the new law on the introduction of changes into the laws concerning the protection of state secrets


Igor Lubchenko, the head of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine, Nikolay Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, Natalya Ligachova (site “Telekritika), Aleksandr Paliy (secretariat of the Public council in charge of the freedom of speech and information) and Valeriy Ivanov (Academy of the Ukrainian press) turned to President Leonid Kuchma with the open appeal.

The appeal reads that the new law on the introduction of changes into the normative acts concerning the protection of state secrets introduces the term “confidential information owned by the state”. The right for information is reduced to the right to obtain, use, spread and store the information “with the open access”. According to the law, the USS gets a number of additional authorities in the sphere of the ODA. Authors of the appeal state that the provisions of the mentioned law contradict to the norms of the Ukrainian Constitution and international legal standards in the sphere of guaranteeing the freedom of speech and the open access to information.

“Thus, the interpretation of the right for the freedom of speech contained in the considered version of the law, which has been adopted by the Parliament, significantly diminishes the amount of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, which is inadmissible”, reads the appeal. In the accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On information”, in some peculiar cases the information with the restricted access may be made public, the appealers remind. In their opinion, the abolition of this decision “will not promote the stable development of democracy in Ukraine”. It is also declared that the state may not own all confidential information, but only the information, which is related to state secrets. The state may possess the confidential information owned by other persons. The regime of using such information is “strictly defined by operating laws”.

The law also envisages the administrative responsibility for violating the order of registration, storage and use of the documents containing “confidential information owned by the state”. Every citizen can be a subject of this offence. At the same time, only that person is brought to responsibility, which had the access to the information or possessed the state secret because of his/her professional activities.

However, the USS head Vladimir Radchenko advises to journalists to be careful when using any information.

(«Segodnia», No. 157, 17 July 2003)
(See also — «Ukraina moloda», No. 128, 18 July 2003)

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