The public demands that the authorities open state registers and restore access to public information
Multiple public organizations and media demand that the authorities open state registers and restore access to public information, according to their statement published on March 6 on the "Chesno" movement's website.
The signatories recall that after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a number of state institutions made some public information classified, namely open data about their work, closed state registers, and stopped reporting on their work.
The alleged primary reason for this was security, although analysis shows that such an justification is not applicable to all information and that that has been classified for other reasons, the statement says.
Such a policy, the public believes, has significantly decreased the transparency of the state bodies and local self-government's work, and citizens have lost easy access to open data of significant public interest.
The signatories stress that the state registers being closed and lack of access to socially significant data leads to corruption, lack of accountability and responsibility and, most importantly, to the loss of trust in key state institutions.
"In wartime, the consequences of this would be devastating, because the war did not put a halt to corruption, and public information being closed enables it to grow. We have recently seen multiple anti-corruption investigations that expose the most high-ranking politicians and officials abusing their power. Acts of corruption occur are being investigated despite the data being closed, with the help of one's own sources and journalists. And total closure can make the public believe that these investigations are being carried out behind closed doors, that both the parliament and the state leadership may be covering up corruption, since it is these authorities that have a say in the data access policies," the statement reads.
Furthermore, the authors of the statement remind that public organizations and mass media have repeatedly stressed that there is a line between security and the accountability of the state and local self-government bodies.
"After all, some politicians, officials, and judges took the war as an opportunity to close acess to data and to prevent the public from monitoring their work – as they had done with Covid. Only in certain and clearly defined cases can limiting access to information be justified during war," the statement says.
At the same time, the signatories point out that open data is an effective aspect of resisting the aggressor, an important factor that does not disrupt, but, on the contrary, enhances the work of our state bodies as organization and management structures.
"It is thanks to open data that citizens can aptly analyze the situation in the country and in their communities, promptly influence the decision-making, and increase the transparency, accountability, and efficiency of the state and local self-government bodies, even under martial law," the statement says.
Also, the authors stress that access to open registers and databases for private persons is critical for checking the integrity of contractors, clients, partners and potential employees, and therefore is a guarantee of security and economic stability of both specific companies and the state in general.
In addition, according to the statement, open data enables entrepreneurs to take more active participation in anti-corruption monitoring and control over the actions of the government, as well as to help with implementing the sanctions policy in the fight against the terrorist state.
"Open data helps save taxpayers' money, develop the business environment, and prevent corruption. Therefore, a way to balance national security and defense with openness and accountability must be found, as has been discussed at the Lugano international conference in particular," the statement says.
In view of the above, the signatories believe that the state should immediately restore:
- mandatory income declarations for politicians and officials for the public to compare their fortunes and lifestyle with their salaries;
- mandatory reporting by parties on the funding they receive from the state;
- access to full information about the work of people's deputies and the work of parliamentary committees on the VRU website;
- access to the Unified Register of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs and other registers of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, while taking into account the legal restrictions and providing valid justification for non-disclosure;
- step up control over compliance with the Law "On Access to Public Information", as a number of authorities and local self-government bodies are abusing the martial law and deny information to citizens;
- restore access to the information in the court register that has been classified in violation of the Law "On Access to Court Decisions";
- the register of seized assets administered by the ARMA;
- Prozorro auctions and publication of procurement agreements;
- to start working on the release of public information by state bodies in accordance with Resolution #835, and, in case some data may not be made public, to release the results of the three-part check to substantiate that.
The statement was signed by:
- CHESNO movement
- Anti-Corruption Center
- "Nashi Hroshi"
- Institute of Legislative Ideas
- Anti-Corruption Staff
- Anti-Corruption Research and Education Center (ACREC)
- DEJURE Foundation
- All-Ukrainian association "Automaidan"
- Sonya Koshkina, "Livyi Bereh" editor-in-chief
- "Ukrainska Pravda"
- "Detector Media"
- Smart Media
- Public Control. Openness. Transparency. Accountability
- Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center
- Nadia Babynska-Virna, open data expert
- Electronic Democracy
- Center for Political Studies
- "Integrity UA"
- Joint Action Center
- All-Ukrainian public association "The Republic Institute"
- Actyvna Hromada
- Public organization "Open Data Association"
- Ukrainian Voters Committee
- Center for Economic Strategy
- Bureau of Social and Political Development
- NGO "Center for Journalistic Investigations 'Syla Pravdy'"
- Information Access Center
- Institute of Mass Information
- Coalition "Zaporizhzhia Reforms Council"
- Clarity Project and Clarity App
- NGO "Public Holding 'HRUPA VPLYVU'"
- GO "Automaidan Vinnytsia"
- Anastasia Rudenko, editor-in-chief of the online publication "Rubryky"
- NGO "Successful City Institute"
- GO "Skhidny Variant"
- BRDO Effective Regulation Office
- Investigative Journalism Agency "Chetverta Vlada"
- NGO "EcoZaporizhzhia"
- GO "STAN"
- Innovation Development Center
- "Dostup do Pravdy"
- Human Rights Platform
- VOX Ukraine
- Institute of Economic Research and Political Consulting
- NGO "Cycling Zaporizhzhia"
- RISE Ukraine
- Center for Political and Legal Reforms
- UPLAN network of public law and administration
- Law and Democracy Foundation
- Odesa Institute of Social Technology
- NGO "Local Democracy Foundation"
- NGO "Dnipro Center for Social Research"
- NGO "Volyn Institute of Law"
- Center for Local Government Studies
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