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Kyiv district court says legal entities cannot petition High Commissioner on Human Rights about access to public information

07.08.2017, 18:20
The judge of Shevchenkivskyi district court of Kyiv city Alina Humeniuk closed the case against the regional branch of “Southwestern railroad” of the Public JSC “Ukrainian railroad” for failure to provide response to the information request of the chief editor of “Sudovo-Yuurydychna Hazeta” ("Court and Legal Newspaper"). As the argument for this decision, the court claims that the petition of the claimant to the High Commissioner on Human Rights was an improper remedy. This was published in the  court judgement“Dostup do pravdy” reports. The claimant requested the public enterprise about the amount of governmental funds transferred to the subcontractor "Hydroinzhbud" under the contract for constructing railroad and highway bridge over the Dnieper river in Kyiv city (with access roads) at the railroad section Kyiv-Moskovskyi - Darnytsia, and the funds still outstanding, as well as copies of the contract in question, work completion certificate and the estimate for the works under the contract. The response that was given was that the information in question is confidential. The claimant after that sent a petition to the Parliamentary High Commissioner on Human Rights on violation its right for access to public information, giving the argument that the information in question is of significant public interest. The High Commissioner, after considering the petition, forwarded the case to the court as an administrative offence. Yet the court decided that the public railroad company did not commit an offense, and the High Commissioner was not acting within the office's competence. The argument provided was that a High Commissioner has no powers to seek remedy for legal entities. The lawyer of NGO “Center for Democracy and Supremacy of Law” Vita Volodovska said that the approach of the court in this case is quite dangerous, as in fact it absolves from responsibility for failure to provide information in response to the request of legal entities, thus narrowing down the functions of the High Commissioner.
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