Draft amendments to Freedom of Information Act in Hungary should be discussed with all stakeholders

Draft amendments to the Freedom of Information Act of Hungary raise concerns about access to public information and should be consulted with all stakeholders before adoption, Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media said today.

“I call on the Parliament not to adopt the proposed amendments and to launch a public discussion with all stakeholders to ensure that the changes will support, and not limit, access to public information.”

Mijatović said that freedom to access information is essential to guaranteeing transparency and the accountability of public affairs.

“It is an indispensable instrument for citizens to remain well informed, and an essential tool for journalists to do their job,” Mijatović said.

The draft amendments, proposed by the Justice Ministry on 26 June under a fast-track procedure, are set to be voted on in Parliament. Hungarian and international media NGOs have expressed concern on several amendments.

“The media performs a key role as the public watchdog,” Mijatović said. “Restricting this role by limiting freedom of information could stifle public debates and weaken journalism and media freedom in Hungary.”

Mijatović is in Podgorica, Montenegro, to discuss media freedom issues with the Prime Minister of Montenegro and to promote the work of major Montenegrin media outlets on media self-regulation.

The original text is available here

Share

Related articles

There is No Effective Control Over National Security - Three Civil Organizations File Complaints with the Constitutional Court

The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Transparency International Hungary seek to jointly challenge the new Act on the protection of classified information, promulgated on April 1st, and several provisions of the Act on national security before the Constitutional Court.

The HCLU Wins 100 Billion Lawsuit

In September, 2006 the HCLU has sued the Ministry of Finance for denying to make public the information relating to the 100 billion forint deficit in the 2006 budget. Last October the Metropolitan Court has ruled in favor of the HCLU and in it's first instance decision has declared the requested data to be of public-interest.

Easier access to public data due to our three successful lawsuits

We have won no less than three cases recently concerning data of public interest. The Centre for Budapest Transport (CBT) and the Hungarian Medical Chamber (HMC) was ordered to release the requested information to our clients free of charge, while MoD ARZENÁL Co., involved in the sales of military devices, has been ordered to reveal the conditions under which they had sold disarmed combat helicopters withdrawn from operation. In all three cases, the decision of the court made it easier to access data of public interest.