On January 13, 2011 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by more than 400 votes approved the Law “On Access to Public Information”. The aim of the Law is to ensure everyone's right to access information of public interest owned by state agencies, Presidential Advisor, President's Representative in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Olena Lukash informed today at her briefing. 

The Law states that access to public information is subject to the following principles: transparency and openness of the authorities; free gathering and spreading of information, except for the cases when it is forbidden by the law, equality of rights regardless of race, political, religious and other beliefs, ethnic or social origin, property status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics. 

The Law “On Access to Public Information” also introduces mechanisms to guarantee every citizen the right of access to public information through, inter alia, obliging information providers to provide and publish information; identifying the information providers and special departments or officials, who organize the access to public information; simplifying the procedure of requesting and receiving information; providing access to the meetings of collegial authorities; monitoring the observance of the right of access to public information; introducing legal liability for the violation of the right of access to public information. 

As the Law enters into force on May 9, 2011, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych has signed a Decree "On Issues of Executive Agencies Ensuring Access to Public Information”, Olena Lukash said. 

According to her, the Decree instructs the Cabinet to finance the activities foreseen by the Law “On Access to Public Information” and performed by the managers of information maintained by the State Budget of Ukraine; approve the boundary costs of copying and printing documents in the time provided by the Law; introduce the monitoring of performance of the Law and court decisions taken in connection with the violations of the right of access to public information; 

The Cabinet was instructed to elaborate and submit to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine a set of draft laws on state control over the provision of access to public information by the information providers, to take measures to ensure executive authorities’ unified approach to the approval of instructions for registration, storage and use of documents and other information mediums.

In addition, the Decree instructed the Cabinet, central executive authorities, the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Kyiv, Sevastopol, city and district administrations to ensure the unconditional fulfillment of the Law “On Access to Public Information”, including to: 

1) develop and approve information request forms containing precise instructions on filing a request for information; 

2) introduce an accounting of requests for information; 

3) appoint units or officials responsible for organizing access to public information and define their tasks; 

4) identify specific places for the work of units processing information requests and provide them with the appropriate office equipment; 

5) create the conditions for citizens with disabilities filing requests for information in a written form;

6) create a system of storage and accounting of information and ensure compulsory registration of all the documents containing public information in the system; 

7) ensure timely publication of draft resolutions that are subject to public discussion, as well as systematic and prompt disclosure of information on the authorities’ activities; 

8) ensure publication of information regarding the forms of request for information described in Article 15 of the Law on Access to Public Information in the official publications, at websites, information boards, and in other ways convenient to the public; 

9) approve lists of documents that contain official information, and publish them in due course for all citizens; 

10) approve instructions on the registration, storage and use of documents and other sources containing official information; 

11) take measures to prevent unauthorized access to the personal identity information; 

12) inform the public about the rights of citizens under the Law “On Access to Public Information”; 

13) conduct trainings for deputy heads of executive authorities, staff members and officials responsible for ensuring access to public information; 

14) facilitate local councils’ deputies, NGOs, public councils, citizens performing public monitoring through public hearings, public examinations, etc. of the executive authorities providing access to public information. 

Olena Lukash also said that the President has signed another Decree today, defining the priority measures to ensure access to public information by all the subsidiary bodies established by the President of Ukraine. 

"As you know, the Department of Providing Access to Public Information has been established to this end at the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, which is headed by Dennis Ivanesko," she said. 

The Department will be examining, processing and keeping record of requests for information, and will be responding to the requests received by the President of Ukraine and the Presidential Administration, preparing the information and analytical materials on the current issues regarding providing access to public information for President’s and Presidential Administration Chief of Staff’s consideration, monitoring the performance by executive agencies and other entities of the tasks defined in legal acts of the President of Ukraine. 

"The President obliges the authorities to report to the citizens and introduces personal responsibility of the officials for creating mechanisms to prevent any violations of citizens’ right of access to public information," Olena Lukash said.


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