Article 10 and 13.1.
Access to Information and Participation of Society

Article provisions:
10. Taking into account the need to combat corruption, each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, take such measures as may be necessary to enhance transparency in its public administration, including with regard to its organization, functioning and decisionmaking processes, where appropriate. Such measures may include, inter alia:
(a) Adopting procedures or regulations allowing members of the general public to obtain, where appropriate, information on the organization, functioning and decision-making processes of its public administration and, with due regard for the protection of privacy and personal data, on decisions and legal acts that concern members of the public;
(b) Simplifying administrative procedures, where appropriate, in order to facilitate public access to the competent decision-making authorities; and
(c) Publishing information, which may include periodic reports on the risks of corruption in its public administration.
13.1. Each State Party shall take appropriate measures, within its means and in accordance with fundamental principles of its domestic law, to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. This participation should be strengthened by such measures as:
(a) Enhancing the transparency of and promoting the contribution of the public to decision-making processes;
(b) Ensuring that the public has effective access to information;
(c) Undertaking public information activities that contribute to nontolerance of corruption, as well as public education programmes, including school and university curricula;
(d) Respecting, promoting and protecting the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption. That freedom may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided for
by law and are necessary:
(i) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(ii) For the protection of national security or ordre of public health or morals.
State evaluation
Public evaluation
Ukrainian laws regarding the transparency in the public sector, and participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector to contribute to the public sector decision-making processes are fully compliant with Article 10 and part one Article 13 of the UN Convention against corruption. Necessary legal instruments and mechanisms for the access to public information, with certain restrictions being set forth by law, and the contribution of the public to decision-making processes, are in place. The overriding public interest is the guarantee of access to information. There are institutes of appeal in place. There are rules that, through the use of information technology, make it possible to simplify access procedures, as well as appeals. The use of electronic channels for access, and dissemination of information is becoming common practice. Despite the solid legal framework and recognized advanced information technology tools, there are cases of unjustified non-disclosure or restriction of access to information, and decision-making processes, by the state, especially at the regional level, due to a lack of understanding and commitment to the spirit of the law. Despite the successful cases of exposing corruption and other offenses by the public and journalists with help of online resources, the practice of use of such resources is spread only by the efforts of civil society. People at the local level are unaware of such tools or have obstacles to using them. The amount of information published by the state in the form of open data is meager for the scale of the public sector of Ukraine. Despite attacks, threats, and restrictions on anti-corruption activists and journalists, as well as their inadequate protection by law enforcement agencies, civic activism is high. There is a need to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ombudsman. Educational and training activities at the national level do not apply a strategic approach and, for the most part, are not based on analytical data collected regularly under a unified methodology.

In short:

State of implementation

Legal framework

1.1. Overarching Law on Access to Public Information
Transparency and openness of the subjects of power (i.e., all state bodies of all branches of government, local self-government bodies, and their officials and officials) and, accordingly, the realization of the right of everyone to access public information are ensured at the constitutional level and the law, and by-law levels.
Since 2011, there is in force the progressive, according to Ukrainian and international experts, Public Information Access Law of Ukraine (hereinafter referred to as “the Law on Access”) (in the edition of the 8th of September, 2021), that is special, overarching law in the sphere of access to public information administered by a holder of public information (“rozporiadnyk public not information”), and the information of the overriding public interest. The law, inter alia, defines public information and information with restricted access; states the guarantees of the right to access public information, determines the means for access to information; protection of a person who discloses the information; request for information and the term for its consideration; reasons when a fee for accessing information is charged; cases when a request for information is to be denied and when the term for granting information is permitted to be prolonged; the mechanism for appealing decisions, actions taken, or non-performance of the actions, by the holders of information; responsibility for violation of the law on access; compensation for material and moral damage when a right of a requester of information and his or her legitimate interests are infringed. The international standards of access to information, including the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, are embedded in the law, with the Convention being ratified by Ukraine after about 10 years of the practical application of the standards set forth by the Convention.
1.2. Information of Overriding Public Interest is the Guarantee Against Restriction on Access to Information
The term “information of public interest” is defined by the Law of Ukraine “On Information” dated on1992 (edit. Dated on the 16th of June, 2020). A holder of information can restrict access to information only under a set of three conditions (the three-part test).
If the information with limited access is of public interest, there is no responsibility for the dissemination of such information.
1.3. Institutions for appeal
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Commissioner” or “the Ombudsman”) is considered to be a special body that oversights compliance with the right of access to information. The Ombudsman considers complaints about the activities of all holders of public information, initiates the process of bringing them to administrative responsibility. You can file a complaint to the Commissioner free of charge within one year (in certain cases the term may be extended to two years).
The activity of the Commissioner is regulated by a special law, which guarantees the Commissioner’s independence from other state bodies and officials. The Ombudsman is appointed and dismissed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The term of office is 5 years.
Decisions, actions, or negligence made by information holders may be appealed also to the higher-level body within the hierarchy of the holder of information (with an appeal being free of charge), or to a court (with payment of court fees).
The law does not limit a complainant in the number of appeals made.
1.4. Freedom of Speech
In Ukraine, freedom of expression and belief is guaranteed, and the right of everyone to freely collect, use and disseminate information, except for personal data, is enshrined.
The activities of journalists and mass media are regulated by the Law on Information. The law guarantees the activities of the media and journalists, and prohibits censorship, interference in the professional activities of journalists and the media, and controls the content of information disseminated. There are only two cases where these prohibitions do not apply: when the preliminary approval of the information is carried out based on law, or in the case of a court ban on the dissemination of information. This law guarantees journalists and media workers free accreditation, admission to public events conducted by a subject of power without accreditation, as well as clearly defines the specific cases when accreditation may be terminated. The decision to terminate accreditation may be appealed in court.
In the areas of television and radio broadcasting, freedom of speech, there are several state bodies from different branches of power:
- National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine – constitutional, collegial state body in the field of television and radio broadcasting, the legal basis of which is determined by a special law. Among the main powers: supervisory (compliance with the law on advertising and sponsorship, licensing conditions, broadcasting during elections and referendums, etc., as well as the application of sanctions), regulatory (licensing, maintaining the State Register of information activities in the field of television and radio broadcasting, etc.), others. The license is the only permitting document, and the National Council is the only body that issues such licenses.
- The Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech exercises parliamentary control over ensuring freedom of speech, the right of citizens to information, guarantees of the media, protection of the rights of journalists and media workers.
- The State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine is the main body in the system of central executive bodies in ensuring the formation and implementation of state policy in the field of television and radio broadcasting, information, and publishing.
- The Council on Freedom of Speech and Protection of Journalists is an advisory body to the President of Ukraine. Its main tasks are to formulate proposals to protect the realization of the rights of citizens to freedom of speech and to obtain objective, reliable information, as well as to ensure guarantees of legitimate professional activity of journalists.
1.5. Legislation Norms on Involvement of the Public to Decision-Making Processes
In Ukraine, the involvement of citizens in the development of administrative decisions is guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, laws of Ukraine, bylaws.
The Law of Ukraine “On Appeals Made by Citizens”, dated 1996 (edit. On the 16th of July, 2021), regulates, inter alia, opportunities for citizens to participate in the administering of the state and public affairs, to influence the improvement of public authorities and local governments, enterprises, institutions, organizations, regardless of ownership. Under the law, the authorities are obliged, inter alia, to consider citizens’ appeals, to ensure the realization of the right of the citizen to be heard; revoke or change the appealed decisions in cases where they do not comply with the law or other regulations, immediately stop illegal actions, identify, eliminate the causes and conditions that contributed to the violation.
Some norms provide civil society organizations with the opportunity to conduct public monitoring of the body (activities of public councils at bodies), to be involved in the development and monitoring (public examination) of state policy at both central and local levels, to conduct public examination body and public anti-corruption examination of acts, their projects developed by the body.
The specifics of the application of relevant instruments at the local level are determined by the Law of 1997 “On Local Self-Government”: local referendum, general meeting, public hearings, local initiatives, self-organized civil society bodies (regulated by a separate law).
Implementation in practice

During 01.09-09.10.2021, the Institute of Legislative Ideas conducted an online anonymous survey on the situation in Ukraine in terms of access to public information, public involvement, freedom of speech (hereinafter – the “survey”) by questioning 80 civil society representatives and the media from 21 regions of Ukraine.
2.1. Means for Access to Information
According to the survey, inquiries, open online resources, and instruments are the most frequently applied means for access to public information. Open state-owned registries, among others, the state-owned Registry of Declarations; official websites of the state bodies; the “Statistics” rubric of the website instrument “Access to Truth” (“Dospup do pravdy”), where answers to inquiries already received are available in the public domain, are amongst examples of such open online resources and instruments.
The communication, directed towards the public and journalists, for ensuring transparency and accountability of the public sector is not suitable and adequate. Very few respondents use public speeches made by public officials (statements, including those made during interviews, as well as other forms of public information) (15%), communication in person (meeting in person) (14%) as the source of public information.
2.1.1. Inquiries for Public Information
Efforts made by state bodies for simplifying and speeding up the process of sending, receiving, processing, responding to inquiries for public information, as well as their efforts to conduct quality analysis of their practice of dealing with inquiries, are insufficient. Although the results of control (inspections, monitoring) of the special body provide recommendations for the elimination of negative practices by specific bodies, however, there is a lack of tools and mechanisms that guarantee their implementation.
Although the authorities keep electronic records of inquiries for information and publish regular reports on the processing of inquiries for information, the information they publish in their reports is superficial. Thus, 88% of executive authorities publish monthly, quarterly, weekly and annual reports on their websites. However, according to the content analysis, the information in these reports is not comprehensive (deep and complete): the information is limited to quantitative indicators (total number of requests received, requests considered, including the number of requests for information and for which denied). Typical is the lack of information on problem analysis, average time spent on consideration, the reasons of overdue terms, or the opposite, the explanation of good capacity to operative processing, the grounds for rejection with a reason given, cases of appeals against refusals, and the outcomes of the appeals, the practice of charging fees for making copies or scannings responding inquiries. Typical examples of common practices are not demonstrated.
Citizens are very active in sending requests for public information. Citizens and their associations are the most active category of inquirers (82,6%). Among the possible reasons, there are difficulties with access to open sources, lack of information or incompleteness of information among the published information, their being not aware of the existence of open resources of public information.
2.1.2. Practice of Sending Inquiries
An E-mail has become the most popular channel for making inquiries for information, although 5 years ago it was common practice to deny requests received by e-mail.
Of the total number of requests for public information received by the executive authorities, 50.1% were received by e-mail (352293), by snail mail – 36% (252743), other channels – 11,9% (83554), telephone – 1,1% (7786), fax 0,9% (6277). The results of the survey also confirm the high prevalence of electronic channels for sending inquiries: 60% of respondents most often receive public information by sending a request for public information in the electronic form to an e-mail box or through an electronic form posted on the official website; 12% in paper form.
E-mail, compared to other methods, is the most widely used channel for receiving inquiries from local executive bodies (65.3% of the total number of inquiries received).
Faxing as a means of sending inquiries is losing its relevance. In just three years, the executive has received 15 times fewer inquiries by fax.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a significant increase in the need for access, primarily to digital information and electronic means of sending or requesting, and responding to them.
Tools for making inquiries or applications are being simplified. In our view, launching ready-made templates for inquiries or applications in electronic form on the websites of the authorities is a good practice. It does not take much time to fill out such forms, even if authorization is required. It is not common practice for state authorities to provide automatic prompt feedback to the requester’s e-mail with confirmation of receipt of the inquiry or application with notification of the number and date of its registration.
Inquiries are a tool for public monitoring: 12% of respondents appealed to law enforcement agencies based on information received on their inquiries. Responds to inquiries are often the basis for publicity and investigative journalism. For example, in 2017, the response to an inquiry for copies of diplomas exposed the forgery of the diploma of the head of staff of the Kyiv City State Administration, who at that time had been working with Kyiv mayor Klitschko for ten years. Journalists of the “Schemes” program published an investigation. The police opened a criminal proceeding, and prosecutors reported the suspicion. Consequently, the head of staff was fired. However, the court later acquitted him due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
2.1.3. Availability of Public Information in Open Access
The vast majority of public bodies nominally comply with the requirements to publish regular public reports on their activities on their official websites and social media pages. Despite meeting these formal requirements, directors report only selective achievements taken and evaluated according to undefined criteria. Since 2020, the NAPC has become an exception to the definition of criteria, as its work is evaluated according to the approved methodology with certain indicators of performance evaluation. It is a positive development. Such a practice has the potential to become a common good practice. The vast majority of bodies (83% of executive bodies) have a system of public information accounting, i.e., an electronic database containing information on documents held by the subject of power, and have published this system on their websites (73%).
Sites are not unified, information on them is not systematized. The vast majority of navigation, search, and inclusiveness of the websites need improving.
The lower vertically the body is (for example, from the ministry to its subordinates or from the regional level to a village or small town), the less information it publishes.
The overwhelming number of executive bodies (83 out of 96 bodies) fulfill their obligations to publish public information on their websites, or on the unified state-owned web portal, in open data format, access to which is free, and user-friendly. The unified state-owned web portal of open data (https://data.gov.ua) contains all documents, which are held by state bodies and local self-governing bodies. In the last two years, the total number of data sets has doubled (from about 30,000 to about 60,000). The information in the datasets is updated mainly as changes are made, on a monthly and quarterly basis. Datasets are placed in formats as follows: XLSX, DOCX, PDF, JSON, (X)HTML, 7z, JPG (JPEG), CSV, ZIP, ODT, TIFF, RTF, TXT, ODS.
Despite the recognized advanced information technology initiatives successfully implemented in Ukraine over the past 10 years, there are still cases where the actual amount of data published in the open format is disproportionately scarce for Ukraine's public sector, especially in local self-governing bodies. The vast majority of bodies do not follow the recommendations given to them. Even though the supervisory body found inconsistencies and provided recommendations for their elimination, some ministries have published several or no data sets; the number of published data sets of oblast councils varies from 10 to 90% of the general and special data sets that are to be made public. At the same time, the public data that is made public have little to do with the most prone to corruption, or monopolized sectors of the economy. According to the results of the analysis, as of October 27, 2021, two of the available 12 categories of the unified state-owned web-portal of open data remain empty, namely, no data set is published in the “Energy” category (it must contain information on tariffs, extraction, consumption, import/export of energy, etc.), and the “Regional development” category (territorial communities, communal property, local development), and 8 of the other categories contain a disproportionately small amount of data if to compare with the scope of Ukraine.
The analysis revealed positive development in the formation of the practice of providing additional information. Some central authorities and rarely local authorities provide information, for example, on the focal point (a person responsible), the date of creation of information, the frequency of updates, the date of the last update in the fields of additional information in the subdivisions of the portal categories. However, in all cases, there is a lack of contacts of the responsible person, which is a shortcoming.
A separate achievement is a launch, in 2018, of OpenBudget – the unified web portal of spendings on public money: https://spending.gov.ua/. It is an official state-owned portal with open data on public finances, namely state and local budgets. The portal presents a glossary of budget terms, provides information on the budget process and its participants, indicators of state and local budgets (revenues, expenditures, lending and financing, data on public debt, etc.). The portal creates opportunities for transparent dialogue between the government and the public on budget planning and spendings at the state and local levels. Visualization improves the perception and understanding of data. The OpenBudget portal meets the best international practice in the sphere of transparency of public finance. The BOOST instrument (https://openbudget.gov.ua/analytics/) is an integral part of the portal and is used to analyze budgets at all levels: from village to state, in terms of both revenues and expenditures used by analysts and experts. On the positive side, there is a separate section of the portal with contact information about the bodies responsible for it (https://openbudget.gov.ua/contact-us) and an online application form (more information about public finance can be found in __ ).
Initiatives of IT tools for access to open data implemented in Ukraine are recognized worldwide and have become possible, in particular, thanks to the Open Government Partnership Initiative, which has been implemented in Ukraine since 2011. In total, four action plans have already been implemented in 10 years, the fifth action plan is being implemented. Ukraine has received numerous awards in the implementation of Initiative. Overall, it is recognized that the top 10 achievements of Ukraine are: access to information in open data format; disclosure of information about beneficiary owners; е-petitions, е-appeals; ProZorro, DoZorro, ProZorro.Sale е-systems; е-declarations; construction sector transparency (CoST); open public finance; access to communist regime archives; ensuring the transparency of extractive industries (EITI); е-services. All-Ukrainian recognition is the Prozorro.Sales system. By open nationwide voting, it was selected from among all the achievements of 2011-2020, and selected for the Open Government Awards 2021.
Open data demonstrates anti-corruption and social impact: it has a positive effect on the detection and cessation of illegal activities and increases transparency in various areas. There are frequent cases when received or disclosed public information is a reason to appeal to anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies. More than half of the respondents (57%) have experienced obtaining public information, which became the basis for applying to NACBU, or NACP, or SIB, or the National Police. Among the ways to obtain such information are open sources (Register of declarations, Prozorro, Cadastral map, websites of authorities, etc.) (28% of responses). For example, it was confirmed that open data have a positive and social impact in the following areas: forestry, construction, road, medical, environmental, financial, doing business, local self-governments, public oversight. For example, thanks to open data on forest tickets, wood origin certificates, data from the afforestation plan , the registry for environmental impact assessment anyone can verify the legality of logging, detect abuse and use this information to bring offenders to justice. And in the “Prozorro.WoodSales” open e-bidding system there is data on the amount of wood sold, prices, bidders, etc. This contributes to the transparency of the mark some services use open data in the field of forestry, and in a convenient form provide the necessary information to users, such as “Ecosphere”, Analytical portal, and an interactive logging map, visualization of sanitary logging, Deep Green Ukraine satellite monitoring system of Ukrainian forests, ”Electronic timber auctions” data visualization.
Although in half of the cases, anti-corruption bodies open criminal proceedings based on appeals, bringing to justice is rare. According to the results of the survey, criminal proceedings were instituted based on the results of appeals (48% of respondents). Every 6th such proceeding is closed. Almost every fourth (24%) who applied had the experience of ignoring their appeals by the authorities and 8% mentioned cases of bringing to (administrative) responsibility based on their appeals.
2.2. Cases of Denial of Access, and Other Restrictions
The overall share of denials of access to public information is relatively low, but denials are frequent in situations with risks of detection of corruption or other offenses, although in such cases the most common reasons for denials are ill-grounded classification of information as “the information for internal use only”, personal information, commercial secret, and investigation secret. According to the analysis of the practice of application of the law on access in 2011-2020, in response to 4.6% of the total number of requests (31990 requests out of 702653), the executive authorities refused to provide information, with 1.3% (9300) of which the requested information being of restricted access. The results of the survey show that every two out of three respondents, at least once, were refused to be provided with requested public information, claiming that the requested information was “for internal use only”, or confidential. To give you some examples of refusals that are typical, there was an ill-grounded restriction, by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, of information relating to the protection of the legitimate interests of certain tobacco companies as foreign investors through arbitration. Of particular concern is the practice of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention that, without providing sufficient justification, does not publish and deny access to information about its activities and its organization. For example, referring to confidentiality, the NAPC does not disclose or provide information on the stages of recruitment competitions. Despite the constant public interest and monitoring, the NACP restricts access (by marking this information “for internal use only”) to several regulations (e.g., rule of procedure for selection of declarations for compulsory full verification and order of such verifications based on risk assessment, rule of procedure for declarant lifestyle monitoring, several methodological guides for the authorized persons), violates the requirement to publish its draft acts for public discussion 10 days before approval of the drafts.
In general, it is a common practice to restrict access to information on financial matters of state-owned enterprises by classifying it as a commercial secret. For example, “Ukrzaliznytsia” SOE. This practice, to some extent, can be corrected by a draft law No. 3952, adopted in September 2021.
The non-awareness of the inquirers is one of the reasons for the refusals. 3,3% (22690) out from 4,6% refusals to provide information out of the total quantity of inquiries (particularly, there are 31990 refusals out of 702653 inquiries) are given on the reason that an inquiry is sent to the body that does not hold the requested information, i.e., is not to the holder of the information. The results of the survey also indicate cases of refusal for that reasonі. Respondents also mention cases of refusal due to the availability of the requested information in open sources (for example, on the body’s website), or because the request is, in the opinion of the body, an application, or the law on access does not apply to them (e.g., a military division). There are cases when a requester perceives payment for copying or scanning services as a denial of access to information.
The results of the survey showed that almost every second respondent had a case where the request needed a charge to be paid; and for every third person who had such a case, such a fee was exorbitant. According to the information received from the executive authorities, the charge for copying and printing documents is required to respond to an average of 1-2 inquiries per month. On the one hand, officials complain that there are practices of abuse of rights by applicants, and in such cases, charging a fee can serve as a safeguard against, inter alia, “paralysis” of a public body. For example, during January-May 2020, the Executive Committee of the Odessa City Council received 1421 inquiries from the same applicant; the City Information and Analytical Center of the Odessa City Council received 1209 inquiries from the same applicant, the State Judiciary Administration – 1668, the Office of the Prosecutor General – 4500 inquiries. Another example, the Department for Prevention of Political Corruption of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention repeatedly received several one-type inquiries to provide copies of the financial reports of political parties at the same span of time when political parties submitted their regular quoter financial reports to the Department (there were no e-registry for political parties in Ukraine, and all the political parties carried their regular reports in person to the premises of the Agency, with one such report can consist of thousands of pages). Or, a case when a court clerk got an inquiry to provide many dossiers of judges, and the amount of copying would be so cumbersome that the clerk would have to spend more than a week just copying the pages. After informing about the total sum of charge for copying, the requester significantly reduced the amount of requested information. There are also cases when, after announcing a high sum as a fee for copying, the requester refused the inquiry. On the other hand, it is often seemingly absurd to receive from the authority the response to your inquiry saying that it is possible to provide the requested information after paying a bill to reimburse the cost of scanning or copying a small number of pages, or publicly available copies.
The results of the survey show that in the vast majority of cases, responses to inquiries are provided within a specified period (82% respondents), at the same time, in almost half of the cases (54%) the holders of public information provide public information in full scope and on relevant to the main point requested in the inquiry. According to monitoring, conducted by the Ombudsman in 2020, aimed at rapidity, quality of providing and publishing requested information on COVID-19 anti-pandemic measures, despite the social importance of such information, 75% of holders of information provide such information in time and full scope.
In addition to obstacles to accessing information, which are grounds for appeal, there are other obstacles. The right to appeal is not always exercised, and non-awareness is not the main reason for not appealing. Almost every third respondent has experienced non-response or late response to his or her inquiry or providing a non-essential response to access to information. At the same time, the civil society experts explain the reluctance to appeal against such obstacles by the risk of losing the time needed, for example, for immediate advocacy. In such cases, realizing the probability of refusal, the public traditionally resorted to other than appealing means to obtain information, for example, sending parallel inquiries for the same information to several bodies at one time, or turning to insiders, or partner civil society organizations. Loss of motivation, lack of finances, court fees, fear, “jeans” (publications written at request by a customer) are recognized to be other obstacles to obtaining, publishing, and disseminating information.
2.3. Appeal
The number of cases of appeals against failure to provide access to public information is growing. In most cases, complaints are satisfied. In 2021, compared to the previous year, the number of reports of such violations increased 1.5 times. The results of the survey revealed that every second public information requester who was denied access to such information appealed against such denial. In most cases, complaints are satisfied (60% of respondents).
Most often, a complaint is made to a special access body, i.e., the Ombudsman (68% of those who complained); every third person (26%) files a lawsuit; almost every fifth (18%) complains to the highest body in the hierarchy/vertically. The appeal to the Commissioner is free of charge, the complaint can be submitted through the website https://ombudsman.gov.ua/ using the “Online Reception” option, which allows you to send applications online: https://online.ombudsman.gov.ua/. Appeals do not require special legal knowledge, which allows you to do it yourself, without legal assistance.
The Ombudsman is an independent institution, but its capacity needs to be strengthened. Despite the availability of regular annual reports of the Ombudsman, their structure and information are not uniform. Despite the successful one-time initiative of rating bodies in 2015 on the criteria of openness, transparency, accessibility, etc., the Ombudsman did not continue this practice. The practice of assessing and rating the openness of state bodies of all branches of power and local self-government according to a certain methodology is the right direction of development. The practice of regular rating has the potential to become a good practice. Civil society experts compare the powers of the Ombudsman with “a hammer, which in the hands of a wise, experienced lawyer, has a deadly force”. However, given the needs within the massive scale of Ukraine, the Ombudsman’s Achille’s heel is the small number of workers, who deal with access to information, as well as high turnover of personnel, which also affects the outcome of appeals. Therefore, even though in 2020 the Ombudsman received three times fewer complaints against violations of the right to access to information than in the previous year (in 2020 there were 3613 complaints, but in 2019 there were 10937 complaints), as a result, only 185 protocols were drawn up, accounting for 5% of the total number of complaints received. In the expert circle, there is an unequivocal opinion on the need to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Commissioner. However, the debate on how to strengthen this is ongoing: some experts are in favor of separating the powers of access to information and providing it to the newly created body with guarantees of independence and capacity, while others are in favor of strengthening the existing institution. Some tools make it easier to appeal to the courts, but the accessibility and awareness of these tools are low. There are online tools provided by non-governmental initiatives, such as the “Designer of the statement of claim for appeal against the refusal to provide public information” (https://cedem.org.ua/konstruktor-pozovnoyi-zayavy/) by the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law CEDEM (https://cedem.org.ua/). Access to these tools is primarily due to Internet access, which is still a problem for villages and small towns in the regions of Ukraine and the population of older age groups. The state, in turn, provides free legal aid in special centers throughout Ukraine. You can get such help directly in the local centers, by phone, through the reference and information platform WikiLegalAid (https://wiki.legalaid.gov.ua/). Despite the availability of a communication platform for state bodies’ employees, and PRAVOKATOR law clubs located in the five largest cities in Ukraine, the all-Ukrainian information and education campaigns on anti-corruption aimed at the population of Ukraine using public communication channels are lacking (i.e., public television).
2.4. The practice of Realization of Freedom of Speech
Despite threats and obstacles, public and journalist activity is high. The results of the survey show that 90% of respondents are involved in the detection of possible illegal actions of public officials or persons related to them. Every second journalist interviewed experiences other obstacles to his or her journalist activity: the denial to grant accreditation for public events, to communicate (avoidance of conversations and meetings in person), to respond to inquiries, as well as psychological violence (harassment on social networks, verbal abuse, provocation) and physical violence (e.g., pushing, kicking), non-admission to the premises explaining by quarantine restrictions, non-permission to film, the threat to the police, lawsuits. For example, the attack broke on the 4th of October, 2021, by employees of the state-owned “UkrEximBank” on the “Skhemy” filming crew while recording an interview with the chairman of the bank’s board after a difficult question was put. Bank employees tore the filming equipment out of the crew, removed film records, used physical force, and exerted psychological pressure. Following public outcry, the chairman was removed from office.
In the regions, there is more pressure, obstruction, threats, violence, attacks on journalists . Every third respondent received threats in respect to him or her, or respect of his or her closest. Every eighth person was attacked. Only in 1 out of 10 cases of assault did the attacker be punished by a court decision. There are also lawsuits against journalists. Each one out of each five respondents, in the past two years, experienced lawsuits against him or her, or there was a law enforcement claim against him or her because of his or her publication, dissemination of information. Almost every third person who was approached by a court or law enforcement agency in connection with his or her publication, dissemination of information had negative consequences.
Despite bringing to justice attackers on public activists, journalists is of importance for civil society, as well as despite numerous civil society actions, and public appeals, and statements made regarding the investigation of crimes against journalists, the authorities seem to be making very little effort to change the situation for the better. There is a practice when the police open proceedings on the fact of assault on a journalist not based on qualifications of articles on violations of journalists’ security but as hooliganism. In this regard, it can be questioned that the available official quantitative data on offenses committed against journalists show the real situation. There is a concern that in dozens of cases of obstruction and assault law enforcement agencies are opening criminal proceedings, and that despite open cases and trials, the offenders succeed in evading being brought to justice. In 2020, the pre-trial investigation bodies of the National Police of Ukraine initiated 214 criminal proceedings related to the obstruction of the lawful professional activity of journalists. 16 criminal offenses were submitted to the court. 132 criminal proceedings were closed. As of the 17th of February, 2021, given the past 220 criminal offenses are ongoing. Of the specified number of criminal proceedings: 23 proceedings began in 2021; 51 crimes were committed in the temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation territory of Donets’k and Luhansk oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea; only in 33 proceedings individuals who committed offenses were identified.
The vast majority of journalists surveyed (92%) have not had any case, in the last two years, where his or her material on possible corruption has not been published due to legislative, regulatory, or other restrictions in the sphere of journalist activity and freedom of speech. Internet platforms are often used for publishing, including own sites, pages on social networks. Only one respondent had a case when the material about corruption was not published because of the owner of the publishing house.
2.5. Involvementment of Civil Society
During 2016 – 2020, the number of civil society institutions increased significantly.
Online resources (websites, social media pages) of state bodies, as well as personal contacts, are the most common sources of information for the public about the initiation of public consultations, discussions, etc. by the authorities. The results of the survey show that 38% of respondents most often learn about the initiation of public consultations and discussions by the authorities from their official websites, 28% – from the body’s page on social networks, 29% –from their contacts. The executive authorities published 58938 draft decisions for discussion with the public, of which: 13423 drafts were submitted for discussion by ministries, 1572 – other central executive bodies, and 30443 –local executive bodies.
The more corruption risks are in the sector, the less the public is engaged in decision-making processes. For example, the Ministry of Strategic Industries ignores the obligation to establish a Public Council, and it is reluctant to engage the public in the decision of strategic documents. The appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding such unacceptable practices ended up with the return of the issue itself to the level of the Ministry, which did not resolve the situation in essence. The public from the regions also complains that some state bodies create “pocket” public councils, which include civil society organizations “loyal” to them. There was a glaring case in the Kropyvnytskyi City Council, which was supposed to include the candidacy of a local civil society organization into the working group staff, but by substituting information including the person they needed.
A common problem of not only the executive but also the legislative branch is the general misunderstanding of the essence of work with the public and other stakeholders.
In the vast majority of cases, barriers to the engagement of civil society happen in the regions. In the vast majority of cases, citizens do not complain about non-admission to or non-consultation or decision-making in violation of public engagement rules. 84% of respondents in the last two years did not appeal against the decision of a state/local authority due to obstruction or failure to hold public discussions, consultations, etc. At the same time, 16% appealed the decisions made under such conditions, but only 4% as a result of the appeal the decision was revoked or revised, in 12% of cases the appeal did not change anything. However, the majority of respondents (61%) say that, in recent two years, they have not been hindered in any way by the authorities from engaging in consultations in which they would like or plan to participate.
There are also good practices of civil society involvement. For example, the NAPC has developed a draft anti-corruption strategy for 2021-2024, the Ministry of Community and Territory Development of Ukraine has drafted a National Strategy for Civil Society Development in Ukraine for 2021-2026 with impressive civil society involvement. Online discussions have become an effective mechanism for civil society involvement (especially in regions) under quarantine restrictions.
2.6. Civil Society Awareness of Access to Information, and Civil Society Involvement
Awareness-raising tools are available, but they can only be used by those who have access to the Internet, and are aware of such tools; there is a lack of information campaigns of an educational nature, and the campaigns aimed at forming values in society, through the use of a variety of information channels, not limited to online channels. To raise awareness of access to information, the expert civil society offers, for example, practical guides on access; guides are available online. There is positive feedback given by civil society activists about the website “Access to Truth” (https://dostup.pravda.com.ua/) (in place since 2017). This tool offers convenient and clear templates for making inquiries, responses to 91267 inquiries provided by 1831 holders of information, with a search engine by keyword, or date. Open access to real appeal cases is offered (i.e., “NaSudZaDostup” project: https://dostup.pravda.com.ua/nasud), as well as there are varied explanatory publications, legal consulting, and many other useful things there. In turn, in 2020, the state presented a new educational series named “Current issues of access to public information. Course for Civil Servants and Local Government Employees” that is to be posted on the “Diia.Digital Education” platform. It is stated that this series is aimed at raising the level of knowledge about the legislation on access to public information; prevention of violations of citizens’ rights to information due to unjustified restrictions on access; use of Internet technologies in the disclosure of information, and interaction with citizens. A great achievement, in Ukraine, is the establishment and operation of the Interdisciplinary Anti-Corruption Research and Education Center (ACREC) https://acrec.org.ua/en/, which, in addition to the anti-corruption certificate programs, prepares, since 2019, masters of political science in the framework of the “Anti-Corruption Studies” program. The NACBU Anti-Corruption School, the NACP Integrity Office are functioning.
Despite the efforts of the government and the expert community, the current level of awareness about anti-corruption bodies and their results will remain almost at the same level. The results of the sociological survey, conducted in 2020, revealed that 72,1% of respondents were aware of anti-corruption bodies that are in place in Ukraine; to compare with 73,2% of respondents of the similar survey conducted in 2017. The share of those who were not aware of such bodies went down by 0,8% (20,2% in 2017, and 19,4% in 2020). In 2020, 57,8% of respondents were aware of the achievements of the anti-corruption bodies, compared with 62,5% in 2017. The shares of those who were not aware of the achievements were 28,2% in 2020, and 28,7% in 2017.
Among the reasons are (a) non-awareness of the available open information resources, (b) lack of access to them (due to lack of technical, material, etc. capacities), (c) lack of educational activities for the public, lack of information and education campaigns. As the analysis shows, from the total number of incoming correspondences received by the executive authorities, in which the senders refer to the Law on Access, 13.8% of the total number of inquiries received (96664 letters) were applications in terms of content, but not an inquiry for access to public information. There are frequent cases when individuals and legal entities apply for administrative services referring to the Law on Access. The results of the survey show that each third respondent has not, in recent two years, participated in pieces of training on access to public information, or issues of civil society involvement in the development of decisions and policies by the state.
The expert civil society is united in their vision of the need to increase the number of pieces of training, and apply a conceptual, based on data analysis, approach to the content of awareness-raising activities, practical training not only for employees of state bodies, with special focus on the regions (including understanding the spirit of the law; approaches and principles of communication; application of “three-part” test), and civil society, but also for the youth and schoolchildren (awareness of the rights), with a regular methodologically based evaluation of the results of such measures to adjust existing or formulate new policies. We argue that information campaigns (social videos) are necessary, especially on public television in the regions.

Practices

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negative

Advanced online tools for access to information about public administration (online inquiries, online applications, open data platforms, exchange of experience).
Detection of corruption and other offenses through online tools to access information on public administration.
Professional anti-corruption education (Interdisciplinary Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre).
Ill-grounded refusals to access of information by marking it as information “for internal use only”, secret information, confidential information.
Inadequate activities of law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of civil society activists and journalists.
Lack of regular creation and collection of analytical data by the state.
Lack of nationwide communication and awareness-raising campaigns aimed at forming values in society.
Actual research and materials
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State evaluation will be published soon.

In short

State of implementation

Legal framework

Legal framework after State evaluation.
Implementation in practice

Implementation in practice after State evaluation.

Practices

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Example of negative practice
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Actual research and materials
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Public reports
08.11.2020
Public report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
Public report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
Public report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
Public report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
Public report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
State reports
08.11.2020
State report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
State report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
State report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
State report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
08.11.2020
State report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption in Ukraine
08.11.2020
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