Khmilnyk residents can influence government decisions more effectively through electronic petitions
Publication date: November 27, 2023
Thanks to activists from the NGO “Pravo” in Khmilnyk (Vinnytsia oblast), the local democracy tool of electronic petitions has become more flexible. This gives the community more opportunities to make critical decisions. On the initiative and with the organisation’s participation, local deputies made the relevant changes to the Khmilnyk community charter.
The amendments to the Khmilnyk community charter, introduced in October, are one of the results of an initiative that the NGO Pravo has been implementing with its partners since August 2023. The main aim of these changes is to teach the community residents how to use the tools of local democracy to influence the decisions of the city authorities and to create the conditions for these tools to work effectively. We have written extensively about this initiative before.
Here is the first significant result: members of the Khmilnyk City Council have amended the Khmilnyk Community Charter regarding the number of signatures required to support an electronic petition. Now, the petition has to collect 50 signatures within three months instead of 100 as before.
According to the official website of the NGO “Pravo”, these changes have been very useful for the community. Since the possibility of submitting electronic petitions was introduced in the Khmilnytsia community, 14 electronic appeals have been submitted. However, none received the required signatures (a maximum of 70 out of 100 required).
As Vitalii Dorokh, head of the NGO Pravo, explained, electronic petitions are one of the tools of local democracy that community members can use to influence local authorities’ decision-making processes. At the same time, there are several conditions that city authorities must meet for this tool to be non-formal and to work for the benefit of the people.
– …The number of signatures required for an electronic petition and the time limit for collecting these signatures should be specified in the statutes of the territorial community. It is extremely important that the number of signatures is not too high and that the time limit for collecting them is not too short. If it is the other way round, this tool, i.e. electronic petitions, will be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to use, said Vitalii Dorokh.
The initiative and the corresponding draft decision to amend the municipal charter were submitted to the authorities by Olena Chernii, an expert from the NGO “Pravo”, who is also a member of the Khmilnyk City Council.
It is worth recalling that in August 2023, the NGO “Pravo”, together with partners and representatives of the Khmilnyk City Council, developed a draft resolution of the mayor. The document provided some measures to help residents use the tools of local democracy more effectively. Later, the Mayor of Khmilnyk approved this document, the Plan for Improving the Efficiency of the Instruments of Local Democracy in the Territorial Community of Khmilnyk.
One of the measures* and the first expectation of the initiative was to reduce the number of votes required to support an electronic petition. To this end, a thematic round table and public relations training for officials were held in September this year.
According to the organisation, the initiative is not just for officials. Community members will also be taught how to submit and support electronic petitions, which is one of the components of the above plan.
– We have developed various training programmes for officials and members of the local community on the tools of local democracy, says Vitalii Dorokh.
The training will take place both in the city council building and in the “Murashnyk” (Anthill) humanitarian hub, set up by lawyers and activists from the NGO “Pravo” at the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
*Read more about events planned in the Khmilnyk community as part of the initiative.
The material was created with the support of the international charity platform GlobalGiving and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The publication’s content is solely the responsibility of the Legal Development Network.
P. S. More relevant information on legal and humanitarian issues – is in the special section #StandWithUkraine. It accumulates materials that may be useful to those who suffer, whose rights are violated as a result of the war between russia and Ukraine.
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