The discussion was attended by representatives of state authorities, in particular, the Ministry of Defense and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Members of Parliament, the international community, and independent experts.
The authors of the study cited specific examples where restricting access to information can serve as a convenient screen to hide officials’ wrongdoing. They stressed that excessive and unjustified secrecy reduces the opportunities for democratic civilian control in Ukrainian security and defense and poses a threat to national security.
They also noted that the SBU simultaneously is establishing a regime of secrecy, monitoring compliance with the regime, and is responsible for its removal, which leads to an excessive concentration of power. And the lack of proper mechanisms for detecting violations and their objective investigation preserves criminal practices.
NAKO emphasizes that Ukrainian legislation on information secrecy should be equal to the best world practices, in particular, the Tshwane Principles. Information should be confidential only if there are risks to national security. No authority should be exempted from disclosure requirements. And those who expose corruption in national security should not be held criminally liable if the public interest outweighs the harm of disclosing information that has been kept secret. The experts on access to public information who were present supported NAKO’s position.
Preliminary results of the study were discussed behind closed doors. NAKO will take into account the experts’ recommendations while preparing the final recommendations. The analytical study is scheduled to be presented to the public in October 2021.