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19.12.2006

Luhansk journalists learn about exercising their right of access to information

   

On 15 December in the Ukrainian – Canadian “Vidrodzennya” [“Renaissance”] Centre of the Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National Teachers’ Training University, a one-day training seminar was held for journalists with the title  “Theoretical and practical aspects of the right of access to information”.

The seminar, run as part of the project “City Monitor” (with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy) was organized by the Luhansk region civic organization “The East Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives “Total action in support of human rights and democracy”.

The main specialist at the training seminar was Yury Chumak - Deputy Editor of the bulletin “Prava Ludyny” [“Human Rights”] of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, where he deals with issues on the right of access to information and freedom of expression.

Issues considered were the right of access to official information; domestic and international normative legal acts  regulating journalists’ access to information, standards, the media as a key player in the right to freedom of expression, mechanisms for ensuring the right of access to information in Ukraine, and others.

The seminar was attended by students of the university studying journalism, and lecturers from the faculty of journalism and publishing, journalists, editors, as well as lecturers and students from the Vladimir Dal East Ukrainian National University.

The future journalists had the opportunity to analyse legislative documents safeguarding the right of access to information, to learn in detail about new features of the Law “On information” and to talk with and learn from the experience of journalists, as well as becoming familiar with procedure for making formal requests for information.

Yury Chumak pointed out that “the main argument for freedom of information is that information does not belong to the government, but to the people as a whole. Public officials at all levels find it easier to work in conditions of non-transparency. The task of journalists and human rights defenders is to force officials to take decisions openly, providing the public with full and open information about the activities of the authorities and bodies of local self-government.”

The day’s program was aimed at showing how this can be done and which legally established mechanisms to apply.

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