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City council in Zakarpattya billed journalist for information

23.12.2020, 10:32

Vynohradiv City Council in Zakarpattia issued invoices for UAH 259.25 (around $9) and UAH 86.26. (around $3) for replying to the requests for information from a journalist with the online publication "Holos karpat". 

The journalist Olena Mudra told it IMI representative in Zakarpattia region. She posted more detailed account about it on her Facebook page .

Olena Mudra said to have sent two inquiries dated November 30 and December 15. She asked for some information on allocations from budget funds for the activities of public organizations, as well as on the disposal of municipal land in the town of Vynohradiv.

In response, Vynohradiv City Council sent two invoices to reimburse the costs of printing documents.

Olena Mudra noted that neither she nor the editorial office would pay for the invoices, as the requested information is of public importance, and according to the law, it should be provided free of charge. 

In addition, as noted in the requests for information, the journalist asked for the opportunity to personally review the documents and make appropriate photocopies, as provided by the Law "On Access to Public Information". The city council failed to inform her about where and when she could get acquainted with mentioned documents. 

IMI lawyer Ali Safarov noted that the requirement to pay for making copies of the documents specified in the request for information could be considered as violation of the right of access to public information.

Both the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information” and the case law on the application of this law clearly stipulate that it is the requester who determines in his request in what form he wants to get acquainted with the information. If he requests to provide information directly on the spot, so the administrator is obliged to provide the requester with such a possibility, because paragraph four of the first part of Article 14 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information" directly instructs the administrator to identify special places for requestors to work with documents or its copies, also authorize the requestors to make extracts from them, to take photos, to copy, to scan them, to record them on any media, etc., ” as the lawyer explained.

He reminded that the fourth part of Article 21 of the said Law additionally stipulated that when providing a person with an information of public interest, no fee for copying and printing was to be charged. 

“Thus, the requirement to pay for the production of copies of the documents specified in the request does have signs of violation of the right of access to public information. The final decision in this matter should be made by court of justice, "Ali Safarov said.

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