Civil society organizations and international organizations urge members of Parliament to change certain provisions of a draft law that threaten whistleblowers. The third sector believes that the Verkhovna Rada Committee for Anti-Corruption Policy should recommend the Parliament to change part 4 of Article 53-1 of the presidential draft law No. 1010 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Corruption Prevention’ Concerning Corruption Whistleblowers.” 

The current version of the draft law does not protect whistleblowers who report corruption through media or other external channels from criminal prosecution when the information has the status of state secret at the same time.

This means, for instance, that a person who publishes secret information on tenders in the Ministry of Defense, which may attest to embezzlement, will be brought to criminal liability.

Part 4 of Article 53-1 of draft law No. 1010 “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Corruption Prevention’ Concerning Corruption Whistleblowers’ violates the freedom of information principle and contradicts Article 10 of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

One precedent was the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Bucur and Toma v. Romania, where the court established that criminal liability for publication of information needed by the society violates Article 10 of the European Convention.

The current version of the draft law does not protect whistleblowers who report corruption through media or other external channels from criminal prosecution when the information has the status of state secret at the same time.

This provision of the draft law does not guarantee the right to publish information on corruption through media or other external channels if such information is considered state secret.

However, international law standards and national laws (Articles 29, 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On Information” and Article 11 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information”) say that such information can be communicated given its social importance, and the individual disclosing this information is relieved of liability for disclosing it if the court establishes that it is socially important information. Thus, the provision of the aforementioned draft law creates a legislative collision. 

Civil society and experts call on the committee to improve upon the draft law amending part 4 of Article 53-1 in accordance with the international and national standards. In particular, the following provision should be added: “The procedure for reporting information labeled state secret is established by Art. 11 of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Access to Public Information,’ Arts. 29 and part 1 of Art. 30 of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Information.’”

 

Signed by:

  1. NGO Blueprint for Free Speech
  2. Transparency International Ukraine
  3. Center of Policy and Legal Reform
  4. Institute of Mass Information.
  5. Ukrainian Institute of Human Rights
  6. Trudovi Initsiatyvy (“Labor Initiatives”) CSO
  7. Institute of Legislative Ideas
  8. NGO Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre (ACREC)

International law standards and national laws (Articles 29, 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On Information” and Article 11 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information”) say that such information can be communicated given its social importance, and the individual disclosing this information is relieved of liability for disclosing it if the court establishes that it is socially important information. Thus, the provision of the aforementioned draft law creates a legislative collision.