On 9 February 2022, the online training "Access to Public Information in the Light of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents" was held for judges of administrative courts of Odessa and Kharkiv regions under support of the Joint Project "European Union and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine” in cooperation with the National School of Judges of Ukraine.
The training was aimed to transfer knowledge, improve judicial skills and understanding of the social context of justice in administrative proceedings concerning access to public information with the view of harmonized application of current legislation of Ukraine and the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (Tromsø Convention).
Participants of the online training discussed in detail the definitions of the right to information and its place in the human rights system, the means of protecting the right to information at the national and international levels, peculiarities of application of the international treaties and national law in order to find a balance between right on information and the right to privacy, and in particular - how to apply the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents in resolving disputes concerning the right to information.
After the theoretical part, the participants had practical assignments in small groups and get comments from experts on the results of their work.
The trainers of the activity were Tetyana Oleksiyuk, Council of Europe consultant, Serhiy Ukhanenko, judge of the Supreme Court, Zoya Kononenko, Judge of the Second Administrative Court of Appeal, Larysa Trofimova, Judge of Cherkasy District Administrative Court, Oleksandr Ishchenko, deputy head of scientific and methodological division at the National School of Judges of Ukraine and Kateryna Slyusareva, leading research dpecialist of scientific and methodological division at the National School of Judges of Ukraine.
The Tromsø Convention entered into force on 1 December 2020. Until now, access to public information has been regulated in each country only at the national level. At the international level there was no universal document that would oblige states to recognize the right of access to information and take the necessary measures to ensure this right.
"Ukraine became the tenth country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents and thus launched this legal instrument for other countries," said Oleksandr Ishchenko, during the welcoming remarks.
“The launch of the Convention has become an important proof that Ukraine is one of the leading countries in the field of access to public information, which is able to develop and share valuable practices, as well as to promote transparency in public authorities in other countries," added Iryna Ostapa, officer of the Project “European Union and the Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine". She also said that first trainings for judges on the Tromsø Convention provisions were held under support of the Project in the autumn of 2020, before the entry into force of the Convention: "The fact that materials of this course were developed before the entry into force of the Convention also demonstrates a proactive approach to conflict issues, which may arise in practice after the launch of the convention. We express gratitude to the authors of the course and the National School of Judges for this wonderful initiative, which we gladly support".
Enhancing access to public information for media and society is one of the priorities of the project "European Union and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine". Earlier in 2021, the Project in cooperation with the National School of Judges of Ukraine developed a course “Right to Information and Information with Restricted Access” for judges and held a series of trainings. Also in cooperation with the Office of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, the Project developed a manual "Recommendations of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights on the observance of the constitutional right of access information". The Project also developed a publication in the format of an analytical review "Legal positions of the European Court of Human Rights on access to public information".
The project "European Union and Council of Europe working together to support freedom of media in Ukraine” aims to enhance the role of media, its freedom and safety, and the public broadcaster as an instrument for consensus building in the Ukrainian society.
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