ZHAR.INFO journalists finally obtain public information after an appeal to the Commissioner
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.
This was reported by Alyona Bereza, the IMI representative in Khmelnytsky oblast.
Back in May, the media outlet wrote to 13 City Councils in Khmelnytsky oblast asking for information on their defense-related purchases. 10 City Councils responded – some on time, some postponed processing the inquiry. However, three Councils, namely those in Khmelnytsky, Starokostyantyniv and Netishyn, refused to share the requested information, citing the introduction of marital law.
The editors filed an appeal with the VRU Commissioner for Human Rights and received the information as late as early July.
Yevhen Vorobyov, a lawyer at the NGO "Human Rights Platform", who helped journalists file the complaint with the Commissioner, noted that access to data on the ownership, use or disposal of state or communal assets cannot be restricted.
"The Law of Ukraine 'On Access to Public Information' stipulates that access to data on the ownership, use or disposal of state or communal assets, including copies of relevant documents, conditions for obtaining these funds or property, the surnames, names, and patronymics of persons and names of legal entities that received this money or property (except for the cases provided for in Part 2 of Article 23 of the Law of Ukraine 'On the Basis of National Resistance')", Yevhen Vorobyov explained.
According to the lawyer, the Law of Ukraine "On the Basis of National Resistance" states that the money spent on measures aimed at organizing, preparing, maintaining and leading the resistance movement are considered part of the classified state budget expenditures which are separately allocated to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for maintaining the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. At the same time, the Law provides for possibly limiting the access to information on state budget expenditures separately allocated to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for maintaining the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. However, the lawyer added, the article does not provide for restrictions on access to information on the spending of the local budget, access to such information is authorized in Part 5 of Art. 6 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information".
The Commissioner' representative office in Khmelnytsky oblast responded to the journalists' appeal promptly, and as soon as early July, the above-mentioned City Councils provided information to the journalists. The editors also received a final reply from the Commissioner's representative, which included copies of the letters from the City Councils.
"According to the information received from the above-mentioned local self-government bodies, the information inquiries submitted by the NGO 'ZHAR' on 25.05.2023, were re-examined by the information managers taking into account the clarifications to the requirements of the Law, which were provided by the Regional Representation of the Commissioner in Khmelnytsky oblast; we inform you that the right of the NGO 'ZHAR' to receive public information has been restored and provide the supporting documents," reads the reply signed by the representative of the Commissioner in Khmelnytsky oblast, Oksana Kizayeva.
We remind you that earlier the court ordered the Khmelnytsky City Council to process the request by the ZHAR.INFO team.
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