A long-standing effort of the East Ukrainian Centre of Civic Initiatives has helped to tackle the problem of illegal restrictions of access to municipal development plans.
The number of municipalities that make such plans accessible on their websites has significantly grown. Municipalities have begun to handle more liberally public access to their development plans. Some municipal administrations have attempted to implement norms on dividing municipal development plans into publicly accessible and classified parts and thereby make accessible specific parts of these plans. Some municipalities even announced the possibility of access to development plans that are currently under the classification “for internal use only”. This mainly concerns small cities and municipalities, where the documentation of city development is outdated.
The activities of EUCCI have helped to change access to public information in many different ways:
- The practice of classifying large scale maps has been abolished.
- Ukrainian legislation “on the regulation of city development” now requires dividing information in city development plans into classified and publicly accessible information.
- The legal projects “about amendments to the law ‘on information’ and the law ‘on the access to public information’ have been adopted by parliament in August 2012 as a new legal basis.
- Government building norms ‘on the composition and content of municipal development plans’ now correspond to the norms of Ukrainian information laws.
- The first Deputy Prime Minister has given additional powers to the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Defence, the Secret Service, the Ministry of Justice as well as the Radio and Television Authority.
- The Centre for Military and Strategic Studies of the National Military Academy initiated an investigation into whether it might be useful to declassify large scale maps.
- The practice of access to council hearings was changed (now some documents with the classification “for internal use only” can be published in official gazette or on municipal websites).
- There were first successful court rulings about access to municipal development plans (in Simferopol)-
- Material was gathered to reach precedent court rulings by the European Court for Human Rights (so far two submissions were filed).
- The activities of the centre were extended to the national level.
In the course of our long-running advocacy campaign, a circle of supporters for the idea of more openly accessible development plans was formed. Our efforts were supported by the Department for the Provision of Access to Public Information (APU), the Department for the Enforcements of Rights in the Realm of Information Policy of the Parliamentarian Ombudsman for Human Rights, as well as the State Committee for Regulatory Policy and Entrepreneurship. In all Oblasts of Ukraine, there are now civil society organizations that have experience in securing the right to access to municipal development plans through administrative and legal processes. These organizations collaborate with EUCCI and amongst each other as an informal network. The problem of municipal development plans is frequently investigated by journalists and bloggers. Over the project running time, nearly 1000 newscasts and articles have been published on this topic.