Media Law Institute files a lawsuit against the Ministry of Emergencies concerning its failure to provide information

August 10, 2010

In June 2010 Media Law Institute experts has sent a range of informational requests to central governmental bodies of Ukraine. The aim of the requests was to find out which mass media wereestablished by these regulatory bodies and what amount of budget funds was spenton them during 2009.

One of the said requests was sent by MLI lawyer Olha Sushko to the Ministryof Ukraine of Emergencies and Affairs of Population Protection from theConsequences of Chornobyl Catastrophe. The Ministry rejected the letter without inquiry arguing that the requst was not correspodingwith the requirements of Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Public Appeals”.When MLI lawyer called to the Ministry to find out what exactly made the requestinappropriate, the representative of this state body answered that there was nohome address stated in the letter.

Such reason for rejection is unlawful, becauseit was clearly stated in the request that it was submitted according to therequirements of the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine “On Information”.Moreover, the Law of Ukraine “On Public Appeals” does not regulate the processof obtaining information from state bodies by citizens. The respective legalregulations are provided by the Law of Ukraine “On Information”. This lawspecifies that in an informational request a citizen merely has to indicate anaddress to which he wants an answer to be sent. The Law “On Information” doesn’tcontain any requirements about stating one’s home address in the request.

Besides, the National Commission on Strengtheningof the Freedom of Speech and Development of the Informational Sector preparedand approved the Recommendations for governmental bodies concerning the correct way to file incoming letters accordingto the Laws of Ukraine “On Information” and “On PublicAppeals”. The Recommendations were initiated by Media Law Institute.

Lately Olha Sushko has filed a lawsuit to the District AdministrativeCourt of Kyiv demanding to find the Ministry of Emergencies’ refusal to provide informationillegitimate and oblige the defendant to provide a proper answer to theinformational request. The proceedings are scheduled for the 16 of August, 2010.