10.06.2005 | Yuri Chumak, Kharkiv

Guaranteeing of the access to information is in the interests of Ukrainian officials


The sense of the right for information is the possibility of every person to collect, store, use and spread information orally, in writing or in other way by his wish. The right for information is an indefeasible right not only of journalists, but also of any citizen, foreigner, apatride and juridical person. This right is one of the corner stones of development of the efficient civil society, because only well-informed people have the opportunity to use their rights, to take the active part in taking of decisions on the local and state levels; only the officials, who inform about their activities, work openly and transparently, enjoy the confidence of their people.

The Ukrainian legislation regulating the right for information is, unfortunately, improper. Therefore, the practice of its application is very far yet from the European and international standards, although certain progress is observed lately in this sphere. Now it is necessary to accelerate this process, to teach our officials to work with information, mechanisms of its publication and presentation, to initiate the revision of traditional, but imperfect approaches in this sphere. This problem should be solved by joint efforts of public organizations and state agencies.

On 19-22 April the seminar-training «Freedom of information» for state officials was held in Kyiv. The seminar was organized by the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, British NGO «Article 19» and the Institute of mass information. The training was made after new technology: during first two days the experienced trainers taught the group of state employees, officials of local self-government and representatives of non-governmental organizations, and after that the former pupils worked as trainers.

The officials of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, ombudsperson’s apparatus, appeal and local courts from the entire country actively participated in the trainings, discussions, brainstorms and role games. They familiarized with the basic principles of the freedom of information, learned about peculiarities of the national right concerning the access to information and certain (sometimes groundless) restrictions of this right, as well as mechanisms of processing of informational requests. Jointly with the organizers of the action, all its participants came to the conclusion that a number of measures had to be taken for improvement of the situation in the informational field of Ukraine:

1.  To publish crucial, socially important information, even without the request for such information.

2.  To impose on special personnel the responsibility for guaranteeing of the access to information.

3.  To carry out the proper training of informational officials and other state officials (including the top ones).

4.  To improve or to create (if do not exist) the efficient system of management of information and records.

5.  To propagandize the law on the freedom of information, to familiarize the wide public with the norms of this law.

6.  To report on the activities in the sphere of freedom of information.

All these measures should be realized in complex and permanently. In particular, it is necessary to adopt, as soon as possible, the national law on the access to information, which would correspond to the international legal norms in this sphere and the obligations of Ukraine. By the way, such law draft has been prepared by the experts of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, and this draft can become a basis for creation of the new law.

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