On the first day of the 11th session of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament), journalists and representatives from a number of public organisations urged the parliament to be more open to the media and society, as well as to strengthen security measures, such as shelter preparations.
Source: Institute of Mass Information; Radio Liberty
Details: The joint statement of a number of public and media organisations calls on the Verkhovna Rada to “return to ensuring the principles of openness of its activities.”
The statement’s authors request, in particular:
to ensure that journalists can attend Verkhovna Rada meetings and communicate with MPs on the sidelines of Parliament;
to see to it that agendas for Verkhovna Rada meetings are published ahead of time;
to ensure that civil society organizations’ participation in Verkhovna Rada committee meetings is promoted and supported.
According to the statement’s authors, the admission of journalists to the building of the Verkhovna Rada, as well as the early publication of a list of draft laws scheduled for consideration, will provide Ukrainians with socially significant information.
Quote: “It is also important that representatives of civil society have the opportunity to participate in meetings of parliamentary committees and express their positions on registered bills and initiatives that should be developed,” the statement said.
Provided the security measures are implemented, the applicants believe that such transparency in the Parliament will boost public trust in its activities and encourage active collaboration between civil society organisations and MPs.
The statement’s authors explain that if the introduction of restrictions in 2022 could be justified by national security concerns as a result of the Russian Federation’s large-scale invasion, the work of the parliament behind closed doors in 2024 raises many questions.
Quote from the statement: “Journalists’ lack of access to the Verkhovna Rada undermines democracy. What is the point of referring to the dangers of media presence in the hall of parliament when society learns about the progress and outcomes of bill consideration through live broadcasts of MPs on social media?
Furthermore, the parliament has too many members for its meetings to go unnoticed. As a result, rather than continuing the current policy of not allowing journalists to enter the parliament building, it is worthwhile to discuss security measures such as shelter preparation.”
The applicants state that the return of the public’s ability to communicate with MPs in an understandable and transparent manner “will be a sign of the preservation of democracy.”
They believe that “the media should be able to inform the public about what issues are considered by the country’s single legislative body, and what arguments are heard during the discussion.”
“The parliament’s openness implies the availability of information about its procedures to the public, as well as the creation of conditions for full communication between Ukrainian MPs and Ukrainian society,” the statement said.
Among the signatories are journalists from Bihus.info, Hromadske.ua, Radio NV, Vikna-Novyny, Teksty, Ukrainske Radio, ICTV, The Ukraïner, The Kyiv Independent, Suspilne, Slidstvo.info, as well as the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, the Commission on Journalistic Ethics, the ZMINA Human Rights Centre, IMI, Mediarukh, KRYMSOS, Donbas SOS, SKHID-SOS, Media Initiative for Human Rights, OPORA, Automaidan, DEJURE, etc.
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