Some legal regulation issues of access to public information
Derez V. Some legal regulation issues of access to public information
Some legal regulation issues of providing information on requests for information are highlighted in this article. According to Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information" access to information is provided by: 1) systematic and timely disclosure of information; 2) providing information on requests for information.
The order of realization of the right for access to public information by providing information on request is specified in Section IV of the Law mentioned above. Request for information –is a request from person to the information disposer to provide public information, which he possesses. The requestor has right to request the information disposerfor information, regardless of this information relates to them personally, without giving a reason for the request. The request for information may be individual or collective.Requests may be made orally, in written or in any other form (via mail, fax, phone, email) at the requester’s discretion. The written request shall be submitted in optional form. In order to simplify the procedure of registration of written requests for information a person can request by filling in the relevant forms, which are available at the information disposer’s office and on the official website of the relevant disposer. In case if person can’t submit written request for a good cause (disability, limited physical capacity), it should be submitted by official person responsible for issues on access to public information, with obligatory indication of their name and phone number and provision of requester with copy of their request.
Information disposer should provide an answer to the request for information within five working days of receipt of the request. In case large amount of information search in big amount of data is needed to answer the request,information disposer may extend the term for answering request up to 20 days with indication of reasons for such extension. It is stated in the scientific literature, that in Belgium and Switzerland requesters are provided with response within 30 days, in Bulgaria –within 14 days (in particular cases 24 days) in Serbia –within 15 days (in particular cases 40 days). In Moldova and Hungary and governmental bodies are obliged to give a response within 15 days. The Council of Europe recommends examining requests for information without delays, but does not set any specific deadlines. Taking into account international experience and the relevant national practice of law application, scientists believe that the time for respondingto a request for information in Ukraine could have been more than 5 days.
According to the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information" information disposers are required to have special departments or to appoint personsresponsible for providing requesters with access to information and to disclosure of such information. The article emphasizes some obscurity in the list of subjects of relationships in the sphere of access to public information in the Law of Ukraine "On access to public information."Author supportsscientists’ sensible proposal to combine paragraphs 2, 3 of part 1 of Article 12 of the Law and set it out as follows: "2) information disposer is represented by authorized official of structural department or by responsible person."
The issue of organizational model of state control subject in the sphere of access to public information is analyzed. Scientists name such possible options: 1) creation of new governmental body (such as the National Commission concerning access to information; with probably authorizing it for functionof protection of personal data),which will be endowed with maximum autonomy, but will be the central executive body; 2) the creation of a new governmental body with the guarantees of independence from the other executive bodies; 3) empowering of existing executive body with relevant authorities (for example, the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine); 4) empowering the Human Rights Commissioner of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with relevant authorities in the sphere of protection of the right of access to public information.
Each offered suggestion on the subject of state control in the sphere of access to public information has both its advantages and disadvantages. The discussion on which subject has to control the actions of executive authorities in this sphere and considercitizens’ complaints continues. Most researchers agree that that there is a need for such a subject.
Key words: access to public information, request for information, the term of consideration of the request for information, the subjects of relations in the sphere of access to public information, subject of state control in the sphere of access to public information.