(IMI/IFEX) - 16 June 2011 - According to the "Stop Censorship!" movement, a refusal by the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) to provide information on MPs' income declarations is an illegal attempt to hide important facts from the public.
"This decision also reflects the desire of many governmental officials to continue the course of closure and separation of the authorities from society and directly contradicts the political statements of the President of Ukraine concerning the fight against corruption," "Stop Censorship!" said in a 15 June statement.
"Stop Censorship!" stresses that the Members of Parliament are elected by Ukrainian people and they are employed at the expense of taxpayers. Thus, their profits and wealth are a subject of public interest.
On 15 June, the Secretariat of Parliament refused to provide information on MPs' incomes following a request by journalist Mustafa Nayem, justifying its decision by noting: "The legal uncertainty in this matter leads to the fact that information providers have to interpret legal rules and determine priorities in each case of public or private interest using their own discretion."
The "Stop Censorship!" movement plans to appeal the Secretariat's decision before the European Court of Human Rights in order to ensure Ukrainian society's right to information.
The "Stop Censorship!" civic movement initiated the submission of requests for the publication of income declarations after the Law "On Access to Public Information" came into force. On 12 May, the Centre UA and Maidan NGOs sent by post and e-mail the written requests to each MP. On 13 May, journalist Mustafa Nayem also sent a request to the Verkhovna Rada asking Parliament to provide copies of the MPs' income declarations. On 19 May, Mustafa Nayem received a reply from the Head of the Secretariat, Mr. Zaychyuk, stating that "compliance with this request requires the provision of a large amount of information and its analysis, therefore the term of consideration is extended to 20 days."
On the whole, only 77 MPs responded to the request for information and provided their declarations for publication. Fifty-five MPs sent a reply instructing the NGOs to appeal to the Secretariat of Verkhovna Rada for the information.
"Stop Censorship!" was founded on 21 May 2010. It is an informal group of journalists which emerged in response to the oppression of freedom of speech in Ukraine.
This is an initiative of Ukrainian journalists and public media organizations aimed at protecting freedom of speech, curbing censorship in Ukraine, and preventing any interference in journalists' professional activity and the violation of professional standards.
"Stop Censorship!" does not support any political faction and receives no financial support from any political party.
Download the "Stop Censorship!" statement:
stop_censorship_statement.docx (11 KB)