Date of initiation: February 2012
Essence of the case: protection of the right to access to public information
The Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources charge ungrounded high fee for copying and printing public information. The Ministry of Environment does not see the difference between environmental information and the rest of public information, and this together with high fee violates international obligations of Ukraine within the Aarhus Convention.
On 1 December 2011, EPL addressed the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter – CMU) with an information request grounded by the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information”. In its reply CMU stated that the copy of the requested document would be sent to EPL after we paid actual copying fee according to Art. 21 of the Law “On Access to Public Information”. For 13-page document CMU charged 13 UAH.
On 4 August 2011, the first deputy head of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers approved Norms of expenses of copying and printing documents provided in reply to information requests. These norms establish the fee for copying and printing when producing one A4 format page at the level of 0.1 percent of the amount of minimal salary.
On 2 December 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine issued the Order that set Amounts of actual expenses of copying and printing documents provided in reply to information requests envisaging the same levels of information fee.
Moreover, the Secretariat of CMU and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources envisage the fee starting from the first page of a document. This means for 10-page document no fee is charged but for 11-page document the fee for all 11 pages is charged, which following the norms of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Secretariat of CMU amounts to 11 UAH.
- National level
Believing that the fee for copying and printing at this level violates both the right of EPL to free access to information that does not exceed 10 pages and the guarantee that the fee amount is limited by actual expenses for copying and printing, in February 2012 EPL challenged the acts of the Secretariat of CMU and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on information fee in Circuit Administrative Court of Kyiv.
As of July 2012, the court opened the case proceeding, held a preliminary hearing and started considering the case on the merit.
- International level
We plan to file an appeal to the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention if the case is lost on the national level.