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8 German Federal States violate the "area of freedom, security and justice" with a "guarantee for the principles of democracy and respect for human rights", according to Com 2002/0247 which EU is building up with the help of the Fundamental Rights Agency (COM(2005)280).

Walter Keim, Email:
Torshaugv. 2 C
N-7020 Trondheim, October 2006 to 12. December 2006

To Parliaments and Governments in federal states (Bundesländer) in Germany
Hesse, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Bavaria, Rheinland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg. 

Copy: EU Commission, EU Parliament, EU Council, Council of Europe, OECD, PACE, IHF, OSCE, ECHR, Fundamental Rights Agency and UN

Realization of the Human Right of Freedom of Information failed in 8 German Federal States   


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 65 states all over the world, many of which consider it as a basic right based on their constitution.

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

In the Germany federation a Freedom of Information law had been promised since 1998. The coalition parties have 2004 proposed a law for federal agencies. The federal parliament Bundestag has adopted this law 3. June 2005. The Senate (Bundesrat) approved the FOI law 8. July 2005.

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.  

However Germany is in 8 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. 60 % 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, Application no. 19101/03 that Access to information is admissible. The Sdruženi Court 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 decides in case GERAGUYN KHORHURD PATGAMAVORAKAN AKUMB v. ARMENIA Application no. 11721/04 to communicate the freedom to receive information to Armenia.

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

The Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, visited Germany, 9 – 11 and 15 – 20 October 2006 and suggested to strengthen human rights (Appendix E).

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), all of them ratified by Germany and incorporated into German law. 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 8 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 Declaration of 6. December 2004, that Freedom of 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 CDU), Turkey (2003), Switzerland (2004), Serbia (2004), Hamburg (2006), Bremen (2006) and Saarland (2006) all parties contributed to laws which have been approved without votes against Freedom of Information.

However the German states Bremen, Mecklenburg-Pomerania and Saarland 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-Anhalt, Saxony, Hesse, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate 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 and falling back bananas republics being last of all.

Yours sincerely,  

Walter Keim
Keim v. Germany Appl. No. 41126/05:

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 and UN


  1. 31. July 2005: Petition to 12 German local states suggesting a Freedom of Information law:
  2. Human Right violations in Germany: Freedom of Opinion, Information, Association and Right to Fair Trial:  
  3. Access Info Europe: Development of a Binding Treaty on the Right of Access to Official Documents:


  1. 10. July 2006: Sdruženi Jihoceské Matky v. Czech Republic, Application no. 19101/03, Decision of  ECHR (Admissibility). Access to information.
  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.
  4. CDDH: Project 2004/DG2/74 “Guaranteeing the right of the public to have access to official documents”:
  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: 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:
  7. Keim, Walter (14. September 2012): Parallel Report to the Human Rights Committee on the occasion of the consideration of the Sixth Periodic Report of Germany
    during the Committee’s 106 th Session
    (15 October - 2 November 2012), Geneva
  8. Baltic Sea NGO Forum (18. September 2012): Submission for the Sixteenth Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Germany


Material: Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland adopted 2006 FOI laws. 2007 Thuringia adopted a FOI law. Altogether 10 states enacted FOI laws.

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

20. December 2007 the parliament of Saxony-Anhalt adopted a FOI law. The government of Rhineland-Palatinate is working on a FOI-law. Parliament worked out its own proposal which passed parliament 4. June 2008.



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