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Khmelnytsky court obliges the City Council to consider an information request by ZHAR.INFO

01.06.2023, 19:21
Edit by IMI
Edit by IMI

On June 1, the Khmelnytsky District Administrative Court granted the request by ZHAR.INFO journalist Alyona Bereza, declared the inaction of the Khmelnytsky City Council executive committee to be unlawful, and ordered it to consider the media outlet's information request. ZHAR.INFO editors reported this to IMI.

On April 19, the journalist sent an information request to the Khmelnytsky City Council, asking for inspection reports for all (buildings) of the secondary educational institutions (secondary comprehensive schools, educational complexes, preschool comprehensive educational institutions, specialized schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, collegiums) in Khmelnytsky in order to find whether they can be used by citizens as basic bomb shelters. On April 25, the journalist's request was declined by the executive committee of the City Council.

In turn, ZHAR.INFO appealed to the court, asking them to oblige the Khmelnytsky City Council to provide the requested information. As soon as May 9, the Khmelnytsky District Administrative Court began the proceedings in this case.

In their decision, the court notes that an analysis the refusal showed that it did not meet the requirements set out in Article 22 Part 4 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information", namely "it is not explained in what way and on the basis of which legal act the requested information is classified as confidential; the procedure for appealing the refusal is not outlined."

The court also concluded that the defendant failed to prove that providing such information would be detrimental to national security, territorial integrity, or public order.

"The court rules that the appeal to recognize the unlawful inaction constituted by the Khmelnytsky City Council Executive Committee's refusal to provide information to the plaintiff following their 04.19.2023 request for access to public information should be satisfied," reads the ruling of the Khmelnytsky District Administrative Court, which the journalist received by email.

The only thing that the court did not grant was the request to oblige the defendant to report on the fulfilment of the court's ruling. The court believes that "taking into account the circumstances of this case, the court has no reason to believe that the subject of authority will violate the law by not complying with the court's decision, the decision must be fulfilled immediately." That is why this part of the request was refused.

In general, the court recognized the actions of the Khmelnytsky City Council executive committee to be unlawful and obliged them to consider the a request as required by the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information", taking into account the court's findings.

The court levied a court fee of 1,073 (one thousand and seventy-three) hryvnias 60 kopiykas in favor of the plaintiff.  The decision can be contested through an appeal.

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