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29.10.2009

Declassify “quasi-secret” documents!

   

Human rights activists are calling for documents stamped “for official use only” to be declassified. According to legal adviser for the “Maidan Alliance”, Oleksandr Severyn, there are currently at least 800 legal acts holding the “quasi-lawful” (envisaged by a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers, but not by law) stamp restricting access “for official use only”.

He adds that this figure is based on incomplete data from open sources and is convinced that in fact there are far more.

“What is in these documents is largely unknown since according to established practice, State bodies do not provide information about of the general names of such acts stamped “for official use only”. In this way society is deprived of the possibility of monitoring at least the overall direction of the government’s activities which, instead of using the legal mechanisms set out in the Law “On State secrets” or regulating “official use” in law, violates both Ukraine’s Constitution (Article 19) and the right of citizens to information.”

According to Article 57 of the Constitution, “Laws and other normative legal acts that determine the rights and duties of citizens, but that are not brought to the notice of the population by the procedure established by law, are not in force”. Oleksandr Severyn asks how society can know whether an act determines citizens’ rights and duties when only the fact of its existence and date, etc, are known.

The Civic Information and Methodological Centre “Vsesvit”, with information support from the “Maidan” site and a specialized site “The Right to know” is beginning a campaign, supported by the International Renaissance Foundation, to ensure access to information about acts stamped “for official use only”.

Oleksandr Severyn explains that in the last few days more than 100 central and regional bodies have been sent formal requests for a full list of departmental acts “for official use only”, including their names.

He points out that civic action resulted in the total cessation of the issue of acts carrying the entirely illegal stamps “Not to be printed” and “Not to be published” (for example, through Cabinet of Ministers Instruction o. 490-I from 19.03.08 “On canceling restricted access to some Cabinet of Ministers acts issued from 1991-2005”).

He says that it is now the turn of acts stamped “For official use only. While not denying the State’s right to its secrets, they insist that all be according to the law, and not at the whim of this or that body.

From information at http://www.unian.net/ukr/news/news-343747.html

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