HCLU Builds Freedom of Information Network

September 28th is International Information Freedom Day, alias ’Right to Know Day’. The HCLU celebrates the occasion by launching its new Freedom of Information Lawyers Network.

HCLU lawyers have been effectively assisting and representing clients regarding information freedom cases for the past 4 years. The Network – financed by CEE Trust – partner-lawyers will begin providing legal assistance and representation free of charge in Hungary’s six regions from the autumn of 2008. The aim of the initiative is to increase the transparency of decision-making and economic aspects of local governments for the local media and NGOs and to assist those interested in accessing public interest data.

The constitutional right to access public interest data is crucial in order to monitor the state’s economic management, to monitor the spending of public funds and to see how decision-makers make use or abuse the power invested to them.

In the past few years, the HCLU has gone to court in dozens of cases where state bodies, local governments or economic groups within their scope of interest refused to issue data on their operations, even though these qualified as public interest data.

Recently, the HCLU has won lawsuits against the Ministry of Economy and Transportation in connection with the purchase of Gripen fighter-jets, the Centrum Parking company regarding their incomes, and the lawsuit initiated by a journalist against a number of state owned companies, which refused to disclose information on the salaries and other incomes of their executives. 

In most of the cases, the HCLU has mainly confronted government bodies and economic groups with a national scope of authority or ones which are situated in or around the capitol. With the Network, the HCLU hopes to increase the interest-validation of local NGOs and to assist the local media.

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