Once again the public is left out of the preparatory process of the Draft of the Act on Classified Information

The HCLU has offered its opinion on the Draft of the Act and has prepared a top ten list of its most serious short-comings. The wording of the most recent, August issue of the Draft falls below the standards acceptable from a classifying system in a democratic society.

The Draft lacks substantive safeguards against undue classifications and empowers those deciding on classification to restrict public interest data from being made public in a way that is unacceptable in a democracy.
The government has not come forth with the new Draft of the Act on Secrecy since August. At a press conference held two weeks ago, Minister György Szilvásy announced that the Government has discussed and approved the Draft and will soon make the details of the new draft known.

Until this day, the Draft has not been released for opinion, even though the law states, that civil organizations and interest-groups are to be offered the Draft for opinion before, and not after the Government approves it.

List of short-comings of the Draft:

1. The Draft does not secure effective judicial control against undue restrictions.
2. The Draft penalizes journalists making secrets public and civil servants revealing corruption or other misuses with such serious sanctions, that are unacceptable in a democracy.
3. The Draft fails to strengthen the supervisory rights over secrets of the Data Protection Ombudsman.
4. The Draft fails to introduce a list of themes that can not be classified – corruption issues, breach of the law, etc.
5. The Draft fails to appoint an open registry, where reviews and terminations of secrecy could be tracked.
6. The catalogue fails to clearly define classifiable topics, but the termination of the catalogue carries the threat of the non-reformed –since 1989- national security sector to classify any data unbridled.
7. The Draft does not guarantee access to information about themselves for those monitored unduly, and does not offer informational compensation.
8. The current Draft further weakens the re-examination system and is a serious threat to the accountability of the justification of classifying data.
9. The Draft fails to sanction civil servants who abuse their powers.
10. The Draft fails to establish public monitoring systems aimed at controling the quantity, effectiveness and costs of classifications.
The HCLU calls upon the Government to publicly debate the Draft which carries the strictest restrictions on public knowledge and to remedy the listed deficiencies!

 

Share

Related articles

Hungary's Weak New Anti-Corruption Program

The Hungarian government has devised a new anti-corruption program, which, as opposed to reducing corruption, in fact increases the government's power. Compared with earlier plans, reforms concerning the financing of parties and the protection of whistleblowers have been excluded from the program, which also fails to deal with the asset declarations of MPs. The civil and the business sectors, in turn, are facing stricter regulations in the future.

Double success: freedom of information and HCLU won!

The Metropolitan Appellate Court (Fővárosi Ítélőtábla) delivered its final judgment on appeal in the case against the Hungarian Official Gazette on March 2, 2006. The appellate court changed the verdict of the court of the first instance in favor of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU).

Hungary Classifies All Information Regarding Paks Nuclear Plant

Five NGOs, including the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, have addressed an open letter to Hungary's president after the draft law on the maintenance of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant was passed by the Parliament. The NGOs demand that President János Áder initiate a constitutional review of the law before the Constitutional Court. The NGOs are concerned because the new act severely limits access to public interest data by rendering all information concerning the Paks plant as classified data for the next 30 years. Opposition parties have joined the organizations in attacking the decision.