Stop Censorship will force Deputies to make their income declarations public
Activists from the civic movement Stop Censorship are initiating the sending of information requests to all 450 Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada in which they demand that they make their declarations of income public.
“On the basis of the Law on Access to Public Information we would ask you to inform us in which media outlets and when (with an exact date) your income declaration for 2010 was published”, the information request which will be sent to all National Deputies reads. If the declaration for 2010 has not been published in the media, the initiators ask to be sent a copy of it”.
With their information requests, the journalists from Stop Censorship are supporting the civic campaign on monitoring of implementation of the Law on Access to Public Information which came into force on 9 May 2011. Partners of the initiative are the movement New Citizen and the Maidan Alliance.
Prominent journalist and Chief Editor of the website «Владометр.org», Vakhtang Kipiani points out that since Deputies in general enter parliament as not especially well-out and leave or remain there already mega-rich, such public monitoring on an annual basis of their income can provide “an indicator of their honesty, openness and understanding that in the Kingdom of Denmark something needs to change”. He says that the government needs to stop being rich pickings.
Vakhtang Kipiani also believes that the publishing of income declarations can be the first step towards making politics more professional.
Head of the Svidomo Bureau of Journalist Investigations, Yehor Sobolyev is convinced that you can only expect rules to work where people follow them themselves and expect others to do the same. “There are plenty of good laws in Ukraine which exist as pieces of paper because people don’t know of their existence, don’t demand that they’re obeyed and they themselves don’t follow them. It’s all in people’s hands. You mustn’t think that an official will open the window and yell out that he’ll show you documents about wheeling and dealing with public funding. There are no such officials in the world but in many countries there are active people who demand that those officials obey the law. If there are a lot of such people in Ukraine, the law will be implemented”.
The Law on Access to Public Information was passed on 13 January 2011. According to one of its authors, Deputy from the opposition BYuT bloc, Andriy Shevchenko, after the law begins working, the public will receive the same rights as officials. “Any member of the public will now be able to know what an official knows”, he explained.
As reported, from now on public authorities must publish public information in official printed publication, on their official websites or by other means within 5 days of a document being passed.
The circle of organizations obliged to publish information whom one can turn to with official information requests is also extended. These are not only public authorities, but also bodies of local self-government and institutions receiving public funding (which are obliged to answer questions pertaining to those funds).
The law simplifies and standardizes the procedure for making information requests. Members of the public have the right to make such a request regardless of whether the information immediately concerns them and without explaining why they want the information.
The time frame has been reduced from 30 calendar days to within 5 working days. If the information concerns information needed to defend a person’s life or liberty, pertaining to the state of the environment, the quality of food items, likely or actual emergencies or a threat to people’s safety, then the answer must be provided within 48 hours.
Unfortunately, most public authorities are not ready to bring the laws into force and such civic activity and monitoring are absolutely vital.
New information reported by