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Stop Censorship disturbed by attempts to remove access from the Law on Public Information

22.04.2011    source:
The proposed amendments, they fear, would remove all the progressive changes leaving only the name so that the government could report that such a law had been passed


Viktoria Syumar, Director of the Institute for Mass Information stated at a press conference on Thursday that the civic movement Stop Censorship is worried by the government’s attempts to make amendments to the Law on Access to Public Information.

Ms Syumar said that despite the fact that the Law is due to come into force only after 9 May, parliament is already wanting to make changes to it.

“We have a document signed by Volodymyr Lytvyn [Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada – translator] where proposals are gathering on amendments to this law. As far as we are aware, it was Volodymyr Lytvyn himself who initiated this process before it had come into effect. What is interesting here is that they are proposing to exclude a whole range of provisions which were supposed to ensure government openness”, she explained.

One suggestion is to reject publication on public bodies’ official websites of information about their activities, about tenders etc, as well as to remove liability for not providing information.

In addition, whereas in the current version the right of citizens to information is guaranteed by the duty of the government to provide and make public information, now parliamentarians are proposing to change “duty” to “power”.

“That is, the government does not consider that it has a duty to publish information. The law also ensures access to collegiate meetings of those in power. Yet they are proposing to also exclude this. They suggest removing the test regarding whether information is not open. We are thus dealing with all the progressive norms which made the law a public instrument for control over the authorities. All of that they propose removing and leaving the name so that they can report that such a law was passed.

For the moment these amendments have not been submitted for deputies consideration yet the fact that such information has appeared demonstrates that the government is very sensitive as regards any new methods for making them more open and accountable to the public, and give the public access to information”.

Members of the Stop Censorship civic movement will be making every effort to prevent adoption of these amendments through measures aimed at drawing attention, appealing to commonsense and other means. 

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