In Deutsch

Access to information is part of freedom of expression, together with an active citizenry, and thus one of the preconditions for ensuring a vibrant and well-informed democracy. NGOs demand of the governments to respect and comply with their obligations following national and international standards.
The NGOs call on the CBSS Member States to make the realisation of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – a top priority on their political agenda.
First Baltic Sea NGO Forum 2001

Access to Information Material X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum

X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum, Tuesday, 24th April 2012, 11:00-12:45. PowerPoint material for 2nd session WS III Human Rights: Freedom of information:

Access to documents of public administration is a human right according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [1, 4, 5] and jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) [6] on the basis of the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR) [2] and is seen as a precondition for democracy and important in the fight of corruption. OSCE supports access to information [A].

UN, OSCE and AOS confirm in their Joint Declaration by the Three Special Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression 6. December 2004, that Access to Information is a human right. [3]

The "General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR" [4] confirms that ATI is a human right in its § 18.

Germany ratified ICCPR and ECHR. According to Article 46 ECHR Germany is bound by decisions of the ECtHR. However domestic juridical/administrative remedies must be exhausted in order to complain to the UN Human Rights Committee [5] and the European Court of Human Rights. [6]

How did Baltic Sea states follow up the suggestions of the First Baltic Sea NGO Forum 2001?

There has been much progress. The Baltic Sea Region is a very good example. However German authorities ignored the suggestions of German NGOs and the first Baltic Sea NGO Forum. 84 states with 5.5 billion inhabitants have better ATI laws then Germany. 5 local states (lander) lack ATI laws. Therefore Germany is an exception in this positive picture.

  1. 84 states with approx. 5.5 billion [10, 11] inhabitants i. e. 78 % of the worlds population give better access to information then the federal Freedom of Information Law in Germany (http://www.rti-rating.org/country-data/).
  2. More then 115 states (http://right2info.org/laws) with more then 5.9 billion inhabitants i. e. 84 % of the worlds population adopted FOI laws or provisions in constitutions. 5 German states with half of the population lack FOI laws.
  3. The UN Convention against Corruption is ratified by 158 states with more then 6,5 billion inhabitants, but not by Germany.
  4. Germany did not ratify the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and does not follow Recommendation Rec(2003)4 on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns of the Council of Europe as GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) suggested 4 December 2009.
  5. Germany is the only state in Europe which has not ratified any of these to conventions against corruption.

NGO shadow reports to UN Human Rights Commission to comment the CCPR/C/DEU/6 German state report should be written. May/June 2013 the UPR Working Group will do a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Germany's report. The WS III Human Rights of the Baltic Sea NGOs suggested to follow the UPR process and support to raise awareness of the violation of human rights e. g. of access to information. The support of the UPR process was included in the Final Statement X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum. The Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) was urged to create an Ombudsman for Human Rights [9].

Can ICCPR and ECHR be used to enforce access to information in states without an ATI law?

Complaint against Bavaria in Germany

115 states with 5.9 billion inhabitants adopted ATI laws or secured  access to information in there constitutions. Bavaria lacks a FOI law, to access public documents of all sectors. The report CommDH(2007)14 of the Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg about his visit to Germany 9. – 11. and 15. – 20. October 2006 suggests to add human rights to the core curricula in the legal education and practical training of lawyers/judges  and educate judges and administration in human rights. The petition II/VF.0993.15 to the parliament in Bavaria suggests to follow the recommendation and educate judges and administration in human rights. 3. July 2008 the parliament answered: "The petition is finished on the basis of the statements of the government." This means the suggestions are dismissed. Both the parliament Landtag, the ministry of justice (Justizministerium) and ministry of interior (Innenministerium) refused to give access to these statements, because it was written for the parliament. 13. December 2011 [7] access was requested, because the human right of access to information is recognised by more then 115 states with 5.9 billion inhabitants. These requests were rejected 23. January 2012 and 31. January 2012 with insufficient reasons. On 14. July 2012 a complaint to the administrative court in Munich was filed [8]. The appeal was denied 14. February 2014. Therefore a constitutional complaint 1 BvR 897/14 has been necessary and was filed 17 March 2014.


Sources:

  1. Access to information is a human right according to UN: http://right2info.org/international-and-regional-law-standards#section-0
  2. Access to information in ECHR: http://right2info.org/international-and-regional-law-standards#section-4
  3. 2004 Joint Declaration by the Three Special Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2005/2/article1
  4. "General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR": http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/comments.htm
  5. Complains to UN Human Rights Committee: http://right2info.org/cases#section-6
  6. Jurisdiction European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): http://right2info.org/cases#section-2
  7. Application for access of the reasons why the suggestions of the Human Rights Commissioner have been rejected: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/ifg-einsicht.htm
  8. Complaint Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) Munich: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/enforce_access_to_information.html
  9. X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum “Social Capital for a sustainable Baltic Sea Region” 23–25 April 2012 in Berlin Final Statement
    WS III: Human rights: http://www.bsngoforum.org/files/Final_statement.pdf
    1. We urge the CBSS to create an Ombudsman for Human Rights.
    2. In each country of the Baltic Sea Region, there shall be installed independent national Human Rights Institutes according to the Paris principles.
    3. The workshop recommends that the Baltic Sea NGO Network oversee the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in each country of all the CBSS member states.
    4. The workshop urges the CBSS to find new forums to promote dialogue on migration, women’´s rights, and to raise awareness on men’´s violence against women.
  10. Access to Information Laws: http://right2info.org/access-to-information-laws
  11. FOI Laws: Counts Vary Depending on Definitions: http://www.freedominfo.org/2011/10/foi-laws-counts-vary-slightly-depending-on-definitions/

Internet:
Answer:

X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum, Final Statement, WS III: Human rights: http://www.bsngoforum.org/files/Final_statement.pdf
  1. We urge the CBSS to create an Ombudsman for Human Rights.
  2. In each country of the Baltic Sea Region, there shall be installed independent national Human Rights Institutes according to the Paris principles.
  3. The workshop recommends that the Baltic Sea NGO Network oversee the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in each country of all the CBSS member states.


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Colours on picture: dark green: FOIA enacted. Yellow: pending law.. FOIA= Freedom of Information Act

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