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NCTRB classifies IMI representative's inquiry as an address to delay the deadline for responding

01.12.2023, 15:46

On November 10, the IMI representative in Khmelnytsky oblast, Alyona Bereza, emailed an inquiry to the official inbox of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting, asking for the number of media outlets registered in Khmelnytsky oblast. Instead of considering the request within five business days, the media regulator classified it as an address in order to delay the deadline for responding.

The IMI representative learned this after speaking to an employee of the office on November 30.

The NCTRB office initially explained their decision by saying that the inquiry did not include a reference to the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information". They further explained that the document was signed as an "inquiry" and not a "request for public information". However, the IMI representative notes, at the end of the conversation, the office did admit that they had misclassified the inquiry as an address, and undertook to provide the requested information by December 1.

"I was a little surprised to hear these explanations. During the entire conversation, I never once heard references to the requirements of the current legislation, which could give grounds to classify my inquiry as an address. At first, they tried banal explanations. Then I was asked to rewrite the inquiry to include citations to the current Law "On Access to Public Information". Then they sent me to write an inquiry through a form on their website. I then heard an attempt to explain their decision by the fact that the inquiry did not have my personal signature on it, although there is no such requirement for non-written requests. At the end of the conversation, the employee of the office admitted the mistake she had made and promised to provide an answer to the inquiry," said Alyona Bereza.

Roman Holovenko, a lawyer at the Institute of Mass Information, confirmed the frivolity of such a decision.

"The requested information itself does not need to be created (which is a hallmark of an address), it already exists, although it needs to be sorted out from a fairly significant amount of similar information. But in order to search for information from among a large amount of data, the manager could have legally extended the consideration period up to 20 business days," he explained.

Previously, the IMI reported that ZHAR.INFO journalists only managed to obtain public information from City Councils regarding the defense-related procurements after filing an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights

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