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Rights activists call on the Verkhovna Rada not to pass the draft bill restricting access to court rulings

17.05.2024, 10:51

Multiple human rights watchdogs called on the Verkhovna Rada not to pass the draft bill No. 7033-d "On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Preventing Disclosure of Certain Information in Court Rulings." The watchdogs stress: the draft bill limits access to information and the court register rulings, which are of significant public interest and are important for public control over the work of the law enforcement.

The proposed amendments contradict the principles of a democratic society and Ukraine's obligations related to European integration, according to a statement released by the ZMINA Human Rights Center.

The human rights activists remark that the draft bill had already caused public backlash in March 2023, but vanished from the agenda after gaining traction. However, now MPs want to put it to a vote again even though the NACP earlier identified corruption risks in the draft and recommended to rework it.

"The creation of the court register in 2006 was an important step in adapting Ukraine's legislation to the European law. To this day, the register ensures the transparency of the Ukrainian judiciary. Limiting access to court rulings will set Ukraine's democratic progress back decades, to the level of Russia and Belarus, and will pose a threat to its further European integration," notes the statement.

The signatories note that the draft bill proposes multiple questionable innovations both for the duration of martial law and for peacetime.

In particular, it proposes to limit access to court rulings in cases of special public interest (namely on crimes against the foundations of national security, protection of state secrets, inviolability of the state border, conscription and mobilization, and military service) during martial law and for a year after it is lifted.

"Such a restriction is disproportionate and does not meet the society's needs. After all, journalists, lawyers, researchers, public activists will be unable to learn the case details and penalties imposed on enemies of the state (traitors, collaborators, those who helped the occupiers) and servicepeople. Concealing court decisions will definitely exacerbate tension and mistrust of the authorities in the Ukrainian society, namely with regard to the mobilization effort," the human rights activists explain.

Secondly, the draft bill envisages giving judges the right to remove data that "may compromise security" in cases tried in open hearings from court rulings at their own discretion.

"This contradicts the general principle of judicial transparency and carries corruption risks. In addition, the judges will be making such decisions outside of the procedure, so verifying its legality and validity will be impossible. If a court believes that the disclosure of certain data may compromise national security and therefore this data should be discussed and announced in a closed hearing, the Ukrainian law already provides a mechanism for this," the authors explain.

The draft bill also proposes to significantly expand the list of information that cannot be disclosed in court rulings.

"The problem is not only that such information is largely already available in open sources (for example, data on the pension fund bodies, social protection, local self-government bodies and, finally, on courts), which makes concealing it redundant. At the same time, this provision may facilitate the removal of an unlimited number of rulings from the court register indefinitely to delete this data from the existing rulings. Furthermore, according to the draft bill, this provision will be in effect not just during martial law, but also in peacetime, which is unreasonable and will make it difficult for the public to monitor court rulings," the watchdogs believe.

According to the statement, the law should have a uniform approach to restricting access to information, so open source data should not be limited in court rulings. "Otherwise, it threatens the normal and effective functioning of the Unified State Register of Court Rulings, which is a democratic achievement of Ukraine's society," the authors of the statement emphasize.

"The adoption of draft bill No. 7033-d will encroach on the public's right to freely access information from the court register and exercise control over court proceedings, in particular those that have a significant public traction," the human rights activists stressed.

Signed by:

DEJURE Foundation

Human rights center for servicemen "Pryncyp"

Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center

Open Data Association


National Association "Automaidan"

ZMINA Center for Human Rights

Anti-Corruption Center "Mezha"

CHESNO Movement

Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre (ACREC)

Center for Economic Strategy

Anti-Corruption Staff

Training and Consulting Center on Access to Information

NGO "Public Control Platform"

NGO "Center for Democratic Reforms and Media"

NGO "Human Rights Platform"

Media Initiative for Human Rights

Public holding "HRUPA VPLYVU"

Kharkiv Institute of Social Research

Charity Foundation "Stabilization Support Services"

NGO "Human Rights Center DIYA"


NGO "Crimean Process"

Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group

Education House for Human Rights – Chernihiv

Advocacy Advisory Panel

OpenUp Ukraine

NGO "Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC)"

NGO "Donbas SOS"

NGO "Institutional Development Foundation"


Newspaper "Yurydychna Hazeta"

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