Deutsch auf Deutsch: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/petition_konvention.htm

5 German Federal States violate the "area of freedom, security and justice" with a "guarantee for the principles of democracy and respect for human rights" (Com 2002/0247) when it comes to access to public information.

Walter Keim, Email: walter.keim@gmail.com
Torshaugv. 2 C
N-7020 Trondheim, 6. February 2009


To Parliament German Bundestag
Platz der Republik 1
D-11011 Berlin
Copies: Parliaments in Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. 


Germany should Sign and Ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Access to Official Documents 

Madam/Sir,  

Freedom of Information also called access to public documents is an essential aspect of transparency which is itself an essential part of democracy. This citizens right is found in more then 80 states all over the world, many of which consider it as a basic right based on their constitution.

More than 3,5 billion in more then 80 states people benefit from transparency of administration in Europe, (North- and Middle-)America, Australia, Japan, India, Indonesia and China. After the Russian Duma approved a FOI law, in Europe general transparency of administration is basically only missing in Belarus and 5 German states, e.g. Bavaria.

Bavaria is trying to restrict the national Freedom of Information Law when it comes to supervision of banks (see Senate, Bundesrat-Drucksache 827/08). This would violate the publics right to know how the taxpayers money is spent, trying to help banks.

In Germany Freedom of Information was first introduced 1998 in Brandenburg, 1999 in Berlin, 2000 in Schleswig-Holstein and 2002 in North Rhine-Westphalia. A federal law was introduced 2006.

I autumn 2005 I wrote a petition to 12 German states without FOI laws. 4 German states i. e.  Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania> and Saarland adopted FOI laws in 2006. Thuringia adopted a FOI law in 2007. In 2008 Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate followed. 

However Germany is in 5 of 16 states up to now the only major country in EU, Europe, OSCE, OECD and developed civilized countries without Freedom of Information. Therefore approx. 50 % of the population in Germany lack Freedom of Information in communities, counties and local states.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights includes Freedom of opinion and Freedom of Information. In 1981 the Council of Europe gave "Recommendation No. R (81) 19" on the access to information held by public authorities. A new Recommendation Rec(2002)2 was adopted 2002. 10. July 2006 the ECHR decides in case Sdruženi Jihoceské Matky v. Czech Republic (dec.), Application no. 19101/03 that Access to information is admissible. The Sdruženi Court decision recognized an independent Article 10 right to receive documents held by public authorities, which does not rely on any other Convention rights or interests. 11. April 2006 the ECHR decided in case GERAGUYN KHORHURD PATGAMAVORAKAN AKUMB v. ARMENIA (dec.) Application no. 11721/04 to communicate the freedom to receive information to Armenia. In 2008 TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT v. Hungary (dec), Application no. 37374/05 about access to documents was declared admissible by the ECHR.

The STEERING COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CDDH) of the Council of Europe CDDH was working from 2004 to 2008 with Project 2004/DG2/74 “Guaranteeing the right of the public to have access to official documents” to give a binding convention.

The Council of Europe Convention on the Access to Official Documents was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 27 November 2008 at the 1042bis meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.

The Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, visited Germany, 9 – 11 and 15 – 20 October 2006 and suggested to strengthen human rights in Germany (Appendix E) by giving citizens better information about easier complain systems, teaching administration and judges human rights, a national human rights plan and strengthening the German Human Rights Institute.

In addition I would like to emphasize that the right to information is part of the right to freedom of expression, which is confirmed by international human rights treaties, specifically by the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights (article 19), and the Universal Declaration of Human rights (article 19), ratified by Germany and incorporated into German law. 5 German states violate this pact.

All over Europe access to public documents was adopted on the basis of recommendation 81 (19) of CoE of the year 1981. German federal states fell back Balkan states European standards of citizen rights had no chance in 5 German federal states.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU gives Freedom of Information in Article 42, access to documents in Article 41 (2), the right to complain in Article 43 (Ombudsman) and the right to fair answers within reasonable time in Article 41 (1).

UN, OSCE and AOS confirm in their joint statement of 6. December 2004, that Access to Information is a human right:

The right to access information held by public authorities is a fundamental human right which should be given effect at the national level through comprehensive legislation (for example Freedom of Information Acts) based on the principle of maximum disclosure, establishing a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.

All over Europe e. g. in Nordrhein-Westfalen (2001 with votes of all parties also the conservative CDU), Turkey (2003), Switzerland (2004), Serbia (2004), Hamburg (2006), Bremen (2006), Saarland (2006) and Rhineland-Palatinate (2008) all parties contributed to laws which have been approved without votes against Freedom of Information.

However the German states Bremen, Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Saarland and Saxony-Anhalt gave FOI laws with a time limit, i.e. the citizen right ceases after 5 to 6 years.

The parliaments and governments of the German federal states (lander) in Saxony, Hesse, Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg failed to realize the citizen and human right of Freedom of Information. These German federal states are of the last major countries in Europe and the civilized world without Freedom of information, falling back the international development in civilized states. These 5 states will benefit most from the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on the Access to Official Documents

Therefore it is necessary to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Access to Official Documents

Sincerely,  

Walter Keim
Netizen: http://sites.google.com/site/walterkeim/ 

Copy: Fundamental Rights Agency, German press council, OHCHR-UNOG G/SO 215/51 GERM ES, EU Commission, EU Parliament, EU Council, Council of Europe, OSCE, OECD, PACE, IHF, OSCE, ECHR  and UN.

Answer: 24. July 2010: The federal parliament Bundestag does not support the idea to sign the convention.


Appendix:

  1. 31. July 2005: Petition to 12 German federal states suggesting a Freedom of Information law: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/050731bl-en.htm
  2. Human Right violations in Germany: Freedom of Opinion, Information, Association and Right to Fair Trial: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/de_human_rights.htm  
  3. 27. November 2008: Council of Europe Convention on the Access to Official Documents: http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=205&CM=8&DF=6/18/2009&CL=ENG, http://www.access-info.org/?id=12
  4. http://www.right2info.org: As of June 2008, at least 76 countries had nation-wide laws – on access to information (ATI), freedom of information (FOI), or right to information (RTI). The right of access to official information is now protected by the constitutions of at least 44, and arguably 51, countries.
  5. FOI in Europe and UN: International treaties signed of Germany and violated: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/foil.htm#coe.
  6. 22. January 2009: The russian Duma adopts a Freedom of Information Law. In Europe basically Belarus and 5 German states (lander) Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Saxony are without Freedom of Information laws.

Published on Internet:

  1. 10. July 2006: Sdruženi Jihoceské Matky v. Czech Republic (dec.), Application no. 19101/03, Decision of  ECHR on admissibility. Access to information. http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/echr-19101-03.htm
  2. 19. September 2006: Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Claude v. Chile: Inter-American Court Confirms Right of Access to Government Information.
  3. 16. October 2006: Justice Initiative Intervenes in Strasbourg Freedom of Information Case: Application no. 11721/04. GERAGUYN KHORHURD PATGAMAVORAKAN AKUMB v. ARMENIA (dec.): http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/echr-11721-04.htm
  4. ECHR TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT v. Hungary, Application no. 37374/05: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/echr-CASE_OF_TARSASAG_v._HUNGARY.html
  5. CoE Press Release 499(2007). Report by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, on his visit to Germany, 9 – 11 and 15 – 20 October 2006: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1162763&Site=CommDH. German Human Rights Institute should monitor and give advise on development of laws, development of national action plan on human rights.
  6. 21. January 2009: The Russian Duma passes a Freedom of Information Act: http://right2info.org/news/russias-duma-passs-a-freedom-of-information-act
  7. IRIS 2009-2:3/2: Committee of Ministers. European Convention on Access to Official Documents: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2009/2/article2
  8. 14. April 2009: ECHR Application no. 37374/05 by TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT against Hungary recognizes access to public documents: http://www.access-info.org/data/File/HCLU%20v%20Hungary.pdf http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2009/7/article1
  9. 07. September 2009: Roger Vleugels: Overview of all 90 FOIA countries & territories: http://right2info.org/resources/publications/laws-1/ati-laws_fringe-special_roger-vleugels_2011-oct
  10. 14. April 2009: ECHR Application no. 37374/05 by TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT against Hungary: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2009/7/article1

 

Development:

Material: Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland adopted 2006 FOI laws. 2007 Thuringia adopted a FOI law. In 2008 Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate followed. Altogether 11 states enacted FOI laws.

Negative answers came from parliaments of Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony (opposition positive), Hesse, Bavaria, Lower Saxony. 7 local states (lander) continue 2007 to violate the human right of access to public documents.

In 2007 the government in Saxony-Anhalt suggested a FOI law to parliaments, which was approved 2008. The parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate adopted a FOI law in 2008.

 

Appendix 5: FOI in Europe and UN

FOI Council of Europe

Organization Name with Link Translation
Council of Europe, 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (BGBl. 1952 Teil II S. 685): Article 10: Freedom of Opinion and Information (German)
Parliamentary Assembly, 1979 Parliamentary Assembly, Recommendation 854 (1979) on access by the public to government records and freedom of information: http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/adoptedtext/ta79/erec854.htm  
Council of Europe, 1981 "Recommendation No. R (81) 19" on the access to information held by public authorities: http://www.medialaw.ru/laws/other_laws/european/e-rec81-19.htm  
Parliamentary Assembly, 1986 Recommendation 1037 (1986). On Data Protection and Freedom of Information: http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta86/EREC1037.htm  
EU, 1997 (Amsterdam) Treaty establishing the European Community (signed in Rome on 25 March 1957), consolidated version: Article 255 http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/treaties/livre2_c.html German
Council of Europe, 2002 Recommendation Rec(2002)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on access to official documents:  http://cm.coe.int/stat/E/Public/2002/adopted_texts/recommendations/2002r2.htm German
European Court for Human Rights, 2006 Sdruženi Jihoceské Matky v. Czech Republic (dec.), Appl. No. 19101/03 of 10. Juli 2006: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2006/9/article1 German
Council of Europe, 2006 Binding Convention. CDDH: Project 2004/DG2/74 “Guaranteeing the right of the public to have access to official documents”: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/project_2004dg274.htm  
PACE, 3 October 2008 Opinion No. 270 (2008)1 Draft Council of Europe convention on access to official documents  
European Court for Human Rights, 2008 ECHR Application no. 37374/05 by TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT v. Hungary: http://www.access-info.org/data/File/HCLU%20v%20Hungary.pdf German
Council of Europe, 27. November 2008 Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 27 November 2008 at the 1042bis meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies) German

 


United Nations (UN) and UNECE

Organisation Name with Link Translation
General Assembly, 10.12. 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 19: ...Freedom to seek information" German
United Nations, 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (BGBl. 1973 II S. 1534) Article 19 (2) Freedom to seek information" German
Europe UNECE, 1998 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: Environmental Matters: The Aarhus Convention: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/acig.htm German
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 1998 E/CN.4/1998/40, 28 January 1998: Promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Abid Hussain, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1997/26: III A Verstößt Deutschland gegen UN-Menschenrechte?
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 2000 E/CN.4/2000/63, 18 January 2000: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Abid Hussain, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 1999/36: III B  
UN Special Rapporteur, 2004 JOINT DECLARATION by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2005/2/article1 "The right to access information held by public authorities is a fundamental human right" German

 

 

 

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