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Civil society requested from Zelensky to veto intelligence law

25.09.2020, 12:06

A number of human rights NGOs requested of the president Volodymyr Zelensky to veto the Law “On Intelligence” №2412-d adopted on September 17, 2020 and remit it to the Verkhovna Rada for new discussion.

This is said in a statement from the NGO "Institute of Mass Information", NGO "Interdisciplinary Research and Education Center for Combating Corruption", NGO "Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law", NGO "Blueprint for Free Speech", NGO "Human Rights Platform".

The signatories noted that the Law of Ukraine “On Intelligence” was prepared and adopted in violation of the principle of transparency, without public discussion and without the conclusions of the committees, which were to be relevant in terms of regulating public relations concerned by this law.

“In particular, the proposed law directly addresses issues of freedom of information, privacy and other rights and freedoms, affects Ukraine’s international obligations to the EU, and thus, in this part, the bill should have been discussed and analyzed by the Humanitarian and Information Policy Committee. Committee on Ukraine's integration into the European Union. Beyond this, given some corruption risks inherent to the draft law, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy had also provide its opinion as to the text of the draft law. However, no committee provided its appropriate opinion as to the text in the first reading, ” the statement read.

Moreover, the authors noted, the provisions of the law did not comply with the Articles 8, 32, 34 and 40 of the Constitution of Ukraine and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, namely the law did not cover the exact timing for disclosure of information, which contravened the principle of rule of law and has some legal uncertainty. 

“The norms enshrined in the law not only unveils the bill authours’ misunderstanding of the essence of public information, but they also directly restricted a person's right to submit an appeal and request, which does not directly comply with Art. 40 of the Constitution of Ukraine, according to which everyone has the right to send individual or collective written appeals or personally apply to public authorities, local governments and officials of these bodies, which are obliged to consider the appeal and give a reasoned response within the statutory period, - the statement read. 

Also, the authors of the appeal pointed out, the law leveled the mechanism for verifying the proper restriction of access and failed to set any term for its restriction. "The law removes all intelligence information from the mechanisms of access to information, which makes a dangerous precedent (a very large part of the current intelligence information and so has the status of limited access, but this is regulated by the law on access to information)," – they said in the statement.

In addition, subparagraph 21 of paragraph 5 of Section IX "Final and Transitional Provisions" of the adopted law, part one of Article 8 of the Law "On Access to Public Information" after the word "banking" is proposed to add the word "intelligence". At the same time, according to the authors of the statement, according to the second paragraph of the second part of Article 25 of the law, the intelligence body provides information on the restriction of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of a person only after the completion of intelligence activities. information will not pose a threat to Ukraine's national security.

"We believe that interference with a person's private life, even in the interests of national security, will be considered legitimate only if it is based on a law formulated with particular precision. Thus, the European Court of Human Rights in Kruslin v. France, 24 April 1990, Series A № 176-A, § 27, and Huvig v. France, Series A № 176-B, para. 26, pointed out that wiretapping and other forms of interception of telephone conversations constituted a serious invasion to privacy and correspondence and should therefore be based on a “law formulated with particular precision”. – the statement read.

The authors of the statement are convinced that the provisions of the Law on Intelligence did not meet European standards in the field of access to information and posed a significant threat to openness, as well as created opportunities for abuse of power and increased corruption risks.

"In view of this, we ask you to veto the Law" On Intelligence "of January 15, 2020 № 2412-d and return it to parliament for revision in terms of compliance with the principles and framework of information law, the principles of freedom of information," - the statement read.

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