Media Law Institute takes Verkhovna Rada to court
On 16 November the Media Law Institute lodged a civic claim with the High Administrative Court against the Verkhovna Rada over the lack of response to a formal information request back in September.
The information request asked about how parliament is linked organizationally and financially with the private enterprise which publishes the newspaper of which the Verkhovna Rada is founder - Holos Ukrainy [Voice of Ukraine]. The questions related to the functions carried out by this enterprise called “The Editorial Board of Holos Ukrainy”, what basis they have been given powers, whether there was a procedure for state procurement and whether there is an editorial charter.
The request was received on 10 September, and according to the Law on Information, the Verkhovna Rada must provide the information within a month or explain within 10 days why the request cannot be met. In two months the Media Law Institute has heard nothing. Its Director, Taras Shevchenko, comments: “Unfortunately the Verkhovna Rada demonstrates a lack of openness with access to its own financial information. We consider that court suits against unlawful actions are the only way of teaching officials to respect the right to freedom of information”.
Holos Ukrainy is the Verkhovna Rada’s official printed publication. Funding for it, together with the journal “Viche”, from the 2010 State Budget came to 13 million 48 thousand UAH.
As reported here, the Verkhovna Rada is showing no haste to adopt a vital law on access to public information which is still awaiting consideration.
The Internet publication ’Ukrainska Pravda has recently filed a civil suit against President Yanukovych with the High Administrative Court over the President’s refusal to reveal which joint stock company he is founder of (cf. http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1286837482 )