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Court declares the NACP's refusal to provide information to Rivne journalists unlawful

26.02.2024, 10:34

The Rivne District Administrative Court declared the actions of the National Agency for Corruption Prevention, which decided to postpone responding to the request by the "Chetverta Vlada" journalist Valeria Khomych, unlawful, reports "Chetverta Vlada".

As reported by the IMI, the NACP failed three times to provide the requested information on who among the Rivne oblast officials had submitted digital declarations.

The journalist requested the data as early as July 2023, before the declarations were open. However, she received a refusal twice, and on the third attempt the NACP postponed answering. In their refusals, the NACP explained their refusal by citing the martial law and possible harm that publication of the requested information may result in.

"Chetverta Vlada" appealed the agency's actions to the Human Rights Commissioner and sued.

On December 8, 2023, the Rivne District Administrative Court opened proceedings in the administrative case. As soon as December 12, the NACP wrote back to the journalists. In addition to the list of officials who have submitted the declarations, they provided the declarations themselves, which had entered the public domain the previous week.

Despite receiving an answer, the journalists did not withdraw the lawsuit, because they wanted to punish the NACP officials who interfered with their work.

The February 16, 2024 ruling by the Rivne District Administrative Court reads: "The court rules that the defendant's actions regarding the delay in satisfying the request for information are unlawful."

The court also pointed out what the NACP ignored: the journalist was not asking for the declarations, but to learn whether or not the officials had submitted the declarations for 2021 and 2022.

The claim by "Chetverta Vlada" was partially satisfied. The court collected half of the court fee – 536 hryvnias and 80 kopiykas – from the NACP in the journalist's favor. However, the court did not satisfy the other claim (to provide an answer to the journalist's last request), explaining that the NACP had already given a reply, albeit late and after the declaration register was made public.

The NACP can appeal the ruling before March 16.

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