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Media Law Institute to defend its right to information in Strasbourg

04.04.2011    source:
The case involves the refusal by the Constitutional Court to provide the legal opinions from law institutes cited in justifying its judgment in April 2010, overturning its own judgment 18 months before and finding the new coalition constitutional


On 24 March 2011 Ukraine’s High Administrative Court upheld the decisions of the first and second instance courts refusing to initiate proceedings in an administrative case. This involved a suit lodged by the Media Law Institute with respect to the Constitutional Court regarding provision of information concerning a case examined by that court.

The lower instance courts found that such a case could not be examined as administrative proceedings since the claimant was appealing against the actions of the Constitutional Court carried out in connection with consideration of a court case. In its cassation claim the Media Law Institute stresses that the material it requested is already of an archival nature, yet the High Administrative Court finally established that a court appeal against the refusal to provide information is impossible.

The Media Law Institute plans to appeal against this court judgment in the European Court of Human Rights since there has been an infringement of the right to receive information guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The right of a claimant to effective remedy (Article 13) has also been violated since they were refused examination of the case on its merits.

On 17 May the Media Law Institute submitted an information request to the Constitutional Court regarding the latter’s judgment from 6 April 2010 confirming the constitutionality of the newly-created parliamentary coalition.

The Constitutional Court in its explanation referred to the opinions of leading law institutes. It was specifically copies of the opinions giving the legal possessions of academics from the Lviv Ivan Franko National University; the Yaroslav Mudry National Law Academy and the Odessa National Law Academy which the Media Law Institute asked to receive.

Incredibly, the Constitutional Court stopped access to the legal opinions from these higher educational institutions. In its response to the information request, the Constitutional Court informed that such information was the private property of the universities, and the legal positions of the academics could be circulated only with the consent of the institutes.

At the time Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Media Law Institute, stated that the position of the Constitutional Court ran counter to legislation on information and that legal analyses, on the basis of which an extremely important and highly controversial judgment was passed should be on open access. He promised then that the refusal to provide access would be appealed.  Domestic courts have now forced the Institute to turn to the European Court of Human Rights. 

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