ECtHR: Right to Access Information is an essential part of Free Expression

ECtHR: Right to Access Information is an essential part of Free Expression - Transparency

ARTICLE 19, together with the Access to Information Programme (AIP) have submitted a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the case of MAGYAR HELSINKI BIZOTTSÁG v HUNGARY [APP NO. 62676/11].

The core issue raised by the case is the fundamental right of the public to obtain information held by public bodies and the justifiable limits that can be placed on that access. We argue that the right of access to information is a fundamental human right, and thus any restrictions on it must be necessary and proportionate with any data protection interests. Absolute exemptions do not meet this test.

Further, information about the enforcement of justice in a country, including those that are providing legal representation, is a strong public interest that calls for the release of personal information.

The right of access to information held by public bodies is a fundamental human right under decisions of the Court, as well as recognized by the United Nations, other prominent international human rights bodies and by an overwhelming number of member states.

Any limitation on the right must meet the standard tests of being elaborated in law, and being proportionate and necessary. Any privacy exemptions must meet those tests.

There is strong practice and case law across the Member States that the personal information of public officials relating to their public activities is not generally exempt from right to information legislation. In addition, the public interest must be considered. Information relating to the administration of justice and the actors including lawyers is of a strong public interest.

Read the full intervention here.