Journalists and human rights activist often request authorities to provide information about officials who were found guilty for corruption. Without doubts, this information is public and socially important for citizens of every region. However, in some cases, requesters receive refusals. Thus, the only way to receive information is to appeal those refusals.
And there is one significant case, supported by Fund for protection of the right to information.
In this case, Kyiv Court of Appeal recently obligated Ministry of Justice to consider the request and provide information according to the Law “On Access to Public Information”.
In the request, NGOs “SNK-CHOP” and “MUZa” asked for information about officials (full name, position and grounds of dismissal etc.) of local self-government of Zakarpattya region, which in 2011-2015 who were found guilty for corruption offenses.
This request was redirected to the Ministry of Justice. Ministry refused to dismiss information, stating that “providing an information about officials of separate region is impossible because of limited capability of software … it needs special actions to be taken, such as creation of information using automated software system”.
After obtaining this refusal, “SNK-CHOP” applied to the Fund for protection of the right to information, which provided legal support in the first instance court and appeal court.
In its decision first instance court agreed with defendant, that Ministry cannot distinguish information about officials from specific region. However, appeal court came to the exact opposite conclusion.
During the hearing in appeal court, lawyer of the Fund noted on the fact that automated software system, held by the Ministry, among other include information of workplace and position of the officials, who committed corrupt offences. This information allows Ministry to say which of those officials are from Zakarpattya region.
Thus, the court concluded that the Ministry of Justice possess information about officials from separate region.
Another interesting issue, noted by the court, is that in such cases information administrators should not refuse to satisfy requests. They may prolong the terms of their consideration.
Especially for these cases (when a big scope of information is requested or its search is difficult because of a large amount of data) the law allows to extend the term for consideration of the request to 20 working days.
Therefore, now we are waiting for a new answer of Ministry of Justice and hope that the Ministry will take into account this decision of court of appeal about openness of requested information.