News

Bringing e-petitions to Ukraine

6 April 2015, Kyiv – an opportunity to voice citizens' views on topical issues via electronic petitions was discussed during a roundtable, organized by the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) initiative with the support of UNDP in Ukraine and other partners.

 
"This is not about the use of IT to solve social problems, but about a new model of democracy, a system that will answer the question of how to make society more efficient. The success of this idea will determine how e-democracy will develop," explains Serhiy Loboyko, co-chair of RPR e-democracy group.
 
National and international experts, including civic activists, governmental authorities, and representatives of international organizations, joined to propel Ukraine into the digital age by setting up an official e-petitioning system. Despite the consensus on the reform itself, its implementation looks slightly different to the different stakeholders. Hence, two draft laws are brought to the Parliament: #2299 and #2299-1. The proposals to recognize validity of e-petitions was initiated by the President Poroshenko, on the one side, and MPs from the "Samopomich" Pavlo Kyshkar and Oleksandr Opanasenko, on the other side.
 
After the legislation adoption, Ukrainians will be able to file online petitions with government, and a minimum of 25,000 signatures will initiate a response from the relevant governmental body within 10 days. The authority has to provide a detailed action plan of how to resolve a particular issue or a well-grounded refusal.
 
According to Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of the Presidential Administration, signatures may also be collected by non-governmental organizations. In that case, CSOs draw up a petition on their web-site and then send it to the relevant authority. In his opinion, it will stimulate the discussion, which will increase the attention to the subject, and its consideration will become more transparent. However, organizations should ensure free and easy access to the petition.
 
Among other topics, international experiences of the introduction of e-petitions, including UNDP support to the launch of the electronic petitions system in Montenegro, were discussed. Apart to that, Ukrainian municipalities had a chance to highlight their steps to a full-scale system of e-petitions.
 
 
In addition, the issue of users' identification and protection against multiple voting was disputed by experts. Madara Peipina, head of ManaBalss.lv, Latvian social initiative platform dedicated to e-petitions, emphasises that identification is necessary, as well as some filters and criteria for the content of petitions. Latvians widely use the e-banking system for identification, but it is not as common in Ukraine.
 
Some experts advocate for the idea of digital signatures, but others are totally against it. Hence, this issue is yet to be solved.
 
Despite the differences, all parties insist on the early adoption of the draft law. According to civic activists, there are high chances of seeing it on the agenda this week. In the words of Dmytro Shymkiv, the approved final version of the law will be in 6-8 weeks.