Access to Public Information, Press Freedom
Cape Town v. South African National Roads Authority Limited (SANRAL)
Closed Expands Expression
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The Kirovsky District Court of St. Petersburg held that members of the public and the media have the right to attend meetings of local government bodies. The Court reasoned that it was only through attendance of such meetings that the right to access to information held and discussed by the bodies could be realized.
This case analysis was contributed by Right2Info.org.
Andrey Voronin, a Russian journalist, wished to attend an extended meeting of the Commission for Development of Built-Up Areas. This Commission is responsible for deciding on the construction of new buildings and the demolition of old ones in the Administration of the Kirovsky district of St.Petersburg. The meeting was adjourned to discuss details of a new development plan and the Administration’s press secretary denied him access to the meeting. Voronin challenged the denial in the District Court, relying on access to information legislation which considers attendance of the meetings of collegial bodies as a way for the public to access information about the activities of government bodies.
The Kirovsky District Court of St. Petersburg had to determine whether the access to information legislation did permit Voronin to attend the meeting.
The Court found in Voronin’s favour, holding that prohibiting him from attending the meeting was unlawful. The Court referred to article 47 of the Federal Law on Mass Media which states that a journalist has a right to seek, request, receive and impart information, and to visit state organs and organizations. In addition, article 15 of the Federal Law on Providing Access to Information on the Activities of Government Bodies and Bodies of Local Self-Government provides that collegial bodies must provide a possibility for citizens to attend its meetings.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This was the first case where a Russian court applied article 15 of the access to information legislation and declared it unlawful for a local government body to prohibit a citizen from attending a meeting of a collegial body.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
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