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The Forum was held on July 18- 19, 2013 in a conference-hall of Hotel “Rus” (Kyiv, HospitalnaSt. 4).
The goals of the event included discussingthe challenges for regulating access to public information; exchangingexperiences among the Freedom of Information Defenders Network membersand develop joint strategies to improve access to information; preparingrecommendations with the purpose of working out the necessary amendments to thecurrent legislation and other activities, which will improve the practice ofaccess to information.
Two days of intensive workconsisted of theoretical and practical sessions. Representatives of the keystate authorities (Parliament of Ukraine, Ombudsman Office, State Committee onTV and Radio Broadcasting), experts on access to information, lawyers who haveextensive practice in cases of access to information, NGOs in access toinformation sphere (Mass Information Institute, Media Law Institute, RegionalPress Development Institute, CHESNO movement) and members of Freedom ofInformation Defenders Network from various regions of Ukraine (Vinnytsya,Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Odesa, Chernivtsi, Lugansk, Zaporijja) took part inthe Forum (49 persons, in general).
During the Forum the following topics werepresented and discussed :
1) Current status and prospects of improvementof access to information legislation. Internationalexperience (COE “Access to information” Program,Bulgaria, Expert of COE, Ms. Gergana Jouleva; Head of Observance to Right toInformation Department at the Office of the Ombudsman Mr. OleksandrPavlichenko; representative of State Committee on TV and Radio Broadcasting Mr.Ihor Radievsky; mediaexpert Mr.Dmytro Kotlyar; Ph.D., professor of South Ural State University, Mr. AlexeiMinbalyeyev).
2) The Law on Access to Public Information: litigationpractices as a result of two years of the Law in force. (Lawyer of Mass Information Institute, Mr. Roman Holovenko; LeadingTeacher of National University Kyiv-Mohyla AkademyMs. Diana Protsenko; Lawyer of Regional Press Development Institute Ms.Lyudmyla Opryshko).
3) Transparency of state authorities: accessto meetings, publication of draft decisions restricting access toinformation for its special status, access to the declarations of publicofficials. (Expert at the Institute of PoliticEducation, Manager of Practical Politics Program Mr. Olexander Solontay; Lawyerof Media Law Institute Ms. Tetyana Semiletko; expert of Kharkiv Human RightsGroup, Ms.Oksana Nesterenko).
4) Implementation of the Law on Access toPublic Information by state authorities: exchange of experiences by Network participants (Director of NGONashe Pravo Ms. Oksana Ohdanska; Chairman of the NGO Sokil Mr. Ehor Kravchuk; presidentof the Association of Female Lawyers Ms. Natalia Shcherbata; practicing lawyer,activist Mr. Andriy Maletyn).
5) Protecting the right of access toinformation in the European Court of Human Rights: theoretical aspects andsuccess stories. (Doctor of Law, HonoredLawyer of Ukraine, Mr. Vasil Paliyuk; Lawyer of Media Law Institute Ms OlgaSushko).
As a result of the Forum theparticipants enriched their knowledge on theoretical and practical aspects ofprotecting the right to information. They have also strengthened theirconnections within the Freedom of Information Defenders Network and built new contacts with expertsand governmental representatives. The participants are practicing lawyers, andsuch new knowledge and partnerships will help them provide legal aid moreeffectively and get better results in court cases on access to publicinformation.
At the same time, thefeedback, received by the public bodies representatives from the lawyers in thecourse of the Forum, will serve them as a guideline in the further developmentof informational legislation and work practice.
Moreover, after the Forum thetext of recommendations to the key state authorities and NGOs in media spherewas prepared by MLI experts. The main purposes of the recommendations are to provideeducational activities among the state officials and activists; to consolidateand analyze court cases for further recommendations elaboration; to initiateworking out and adopting the amendments to access to information legislation with the aim of harmonizing current Ukrainian legislation with the international standards.
The Freedom of Information Defenders Forum was held within the project “Development of the Access to Information Defenders Network”. The aim of theis project is to guarantee the legal protection of everyone’s right to access public information. This project is being implemented within the “Rule of Law” Program of the International Renaissance Foundation. More details on the Program: www.irf.ua.
The Forum was held within the project “Promotionof human rights & democracy and strengthening of media and civil society inAzerbaijan, Ukraine and Belarus”, implemented by International Media Support, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Holding of the Forum was also made possible by the support of the american people, provided via the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) and Internews, as well as by the support within the project “Implementation of the European standards in Ukrainian media environment”, implemented by the Council of Europe and funded by the Government of Canada.