Ministry of Justice to submit new edition of the Law “On information”
By 1 March 2007 the Ministry of Justice is planning to complete its generalization of the proposals received from the public and submit for consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers a draft law “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On information”
This was stated during public debate on the draft law on 13 February in Kyiv with the support of the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.
Marten Ehnberg, Elections and Governance Project Manager for the OSCE in Ukraine stressed that Organization for Security and Cooperation believes it to be vital to hold such events.
The representative for the Ministry of Justice – the Government Representative on European Court of Human Rights matters Yury Zaitsev stated that the draft law was designed to regulate the regime for intervention by the State in information legal relations – the right to gather and circulate information, etc.
The draft law was drawn up to implement Ukraines duties and commitments as member of the Council of Europe.
The law stipulates the duty of people in positions of authority to provide information. The regulation of relations linked with access of individuals to personal data has been brought into line with the relevant recommendations of the Council of Europe and the Law of Ukraine “On protection of personal data”., adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 9 January 2007.
Information on restricted access is declared to be information the access to which is limited by those in authority on the basis of laws, or by other parties at their own discretion. In addition, the draft law introduces the category of “official secret” which includes information not classified as a state secret but which is on restricted access on the decision of parties with authority in accordance with the law.
Since confidential information, according to the draft law, may only be held by individuals, legal entities, civic associations and religious organizations, the above will deprive the authorities of the power to restrict access to information.
An important innovation is the provision which states that sociological information must be accompanied by information about the method of its creation, the scope of this being defined by the law. This should promote transparency regarding reports about the attitude of social groups to events and phenomena, processes and facts of public significance.
In general the Ministry of Justice considers that the draft law will promote legal provision for observance of Article 34 of the Constitution regarding freedom of information when documents which were not on general access with violations of legislation are being declassified. The Ministry hopes that this document will help to bring the law on gathering information into conformity with the requirements of the Council of Europe and will regulate State-imposed restrictions on making information public.
However the Director for the Media Law Institute Taras Shevchenko believes that many of the points in the draft law are at variance with norms of European practice.
“There are fears that the definition of information security may be used against freedom of information. The same applies to the term and regulation of official information which enable state authorities to classify documents”.
Taras Shevchenko did not exclude the possibility that the process of agreeing the draft law in state structures would take a long time.
He expressed doubt that the changes this would bring to the document would make it more democratic.