Newly elected local councils have no right to restrict the access of journalists to the meetings - IMI
Local governments have no right to prohibit journalists to attend meetings, and accreditation is a procedure to facilitate the work of journalists rather than to restrict it, and its absence can not be a reason for non-admission of media representatives. Obstructing the work of journalists entails criminal liability.
The IMI lawyers remind about it in view of the reports that the newly formed city councils across Ukraine began to restrict access of journalists to the meetings.
Thus, lawyer of the IMI Maxim Ratushny notes that under the law "On Local Self-Ukraine", transparency, that is a policy of maximum openness, is defined as one of the basic principles of local government. The same Law, in Part 17 of Art. 46, envisages that council session shall be held publicly, ensuring the right of everyone to attend them, except as required by law, and the procedure of access to council meetings shall be determined in accordance with the law.
In addition, deliberate actions aimed at obstructing the lawful professional activities of journalists can be considered as an offense under Part 1 of Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which entails a liability in the form of a fine of up to 50 non-taxable minimum incomes, or arrest for up to 6 months or restriction of liberty for up to three years.
According to the regional representative of the IMI in Transcarpathia, in local councils of the regiona so far there have been no incidents between representatives of local governments and journalists on issues of access to the council sessions or meetings of city executive committees.