Courts asked to force 26 cities to declassify their general plans


On 13 April 2010 the Luhansk based East Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives [the Centre] sent the Zhovtnevy District Court in Luhansk administrative suits against the city councils of 24 Ukrainian regional [oblast] centres, the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Their actions are prompted by the unlawful refusal by those city councils to make access available to official information, specifically to the General City Plans.

The Centre is asking the court to find the refusal of the respondents to provide the graphic part of the General Plan unlawful and to order them to make the documents available.

Centre lawyer Bohdan Bondarenko believes that legislation obliges the councils to provide both the graphic and textual part of their Plans on their websites, but says that if the court does not allow the suits, they will have to turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Centre approached the city councils back in November 2009, asking for access to the General Plans. It transpired that in the majority of cases the relevant documents were on restricted access, stamped “For Official Use Only”.

However in November 2009 the Security Service [SBU] excluded from its List of Items constituting a state secret topographical maps and plans on the scale 1:50000, with the relevant SBU Order coming into force on 16 December. Since that time the graphic part of general plans may not be classified.

This situation is not only in breach of Ukrainian legislation and international practice, but also creates fertile ground for corrupt practices and violations of people’s civil rights. The Centre is calling for the immediate removal of all stamps restricting access which it believes can only exacerbate negative trends in the economic development of the cities

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