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Rivne City Council unlawfully withheld information on prosecutors' lodgings – court of appeal

23.05.2023, 16:31
Cover by IMI
Cover by IMI

The Administrative Court of Appeal No. 8 rejected the Rivne City Council's appeal against the decision of the first instance court, which required the City Council to provide "Chetverta Vlada" journalists with information about the prosecutors' official lodgings. This is reported on the media outlet's website.

In the summer of 2022, journalists learned that employees of the Rivne Regional Prosecutor's Office had been officially allocated real estate. They asked the City Council to vet the fairness of the official apartments distribution in Rivne.

They requested the following information: the names of the persons who had received the lodgings; the scanned petitions from official bodies to the Council's executive committee regarding the allocation of official lodgings to employees; scanned decisions of the Council's executive committee regarding the allocation of official lodgings; the addresses agreed upon by the executive committee.

The City Council did not provide this information, citing martial law as the reason for the refusal. "Disclosure of public information about the work of state authorities, local self-government, law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office, other state bodies, their employees (numbers, positions, full names) may pose a risk to their lives and wellbeing, threaten the national security, and is therefore subject to restrictions,” said the Rivne City Council's response.

Following the refusal, the journalists sued. In February, the Rivne City Court ordered the City Council to provide the public information requested by the media outlet. However, the City Council disagreed with this decision and filed an appeal. On May 4, the Administrative Court of Appeal No. 8 rejected the Rivne Council's appeal and upheld the decision of the first instance court.

The ruling of the court of appeal says that the requested information is public and that the Rivne City Council failed to provide the court with convincing evidence that the harm from disclosing the requested information under martial law would outweigh the public interest in obtaining it.

"The panel of judges believes that the first instance court came to the correct conclusion that there were sufficient grounds to satisfy the claim, since the subject of authority in the person of the Rivne City Council did not act in the manner defined by the law and the Constitution of Ukraine," the court ruling states.

We will remind you that "Chetverta Vlada" has also filed a lawsuit with the Court of Appeal against the Rivne Regional Prosecutor's Office. The reason for this was the prosecutors' refusal to provide journalists with a copy of the investment agreement with a Rivne developer regarding the construction of houses for prosecutors on communal land

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