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Freedom of Information or access to information (ATI) - also known as the public's right to know or administrative transparency - gives citizens access to official information hold by government and other public authorities. In 1766 a Freedom of Information Law (Tryckfrihetsförordningen) was introduced in Sweden-Finland, thanks to a Finn named Anders Chydenius, who (inspired of 7th century China) fought for democracy, equality, and respect for the human rights. 1888 followed Columbia, 1919 in constitution and 1951 law in Finland (independent 1917) and 1966 in USA.
Since then more than 100 countries
adopted such laws. Many countries guarantee FOI
in constitutions. More thens 125
states with more then 5.9 billion
inhabitants adopted FOI laws or provisions in constitutions. ATI is
now firmly recognised as an internationally guaranteed human right,
with decisions at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and
European Court of Human Rights, and global recognition by the UN
Human Rights Committee. All countries in
Europe have FOI laws or are preparing
bills. Nearly all OECD
countries and all developed countries
recognize Freedom of information. Right2Info.org
gives an overview.
RTI-Rating.org rates laws according to international standards. Transparency was the Word of the Year 2003 and 28. September 2003 was the first "Right to Know" Day.
March 2016: Complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, Access to Information in Bavaria
09. April 2014: Constitutional Complaint 1 BvR 897/14: Enforcement of the Human Right of Access to Information in Bavaria/Germany.
31. March 2013: Will CoE Support the Human Right of Access to Public Documents?
7. November 2012: Will OSCE Support the Human Right of Access to Public Documents?
4. November 2012: Should GRECO and HRC experts do the job they are paid for?
14. September 2012: Parallel Report to the UN Human Rights Committee: Access to Information
15. February 2012: Will political parties strengthen transparency and anti-corruption?
5. September 2011: The project ‘Electronic Public Records’ (OEP) won the European Public Sector Award 2011.
1 . September 2011: Can OSCE and CoE promote access to information for Germany
16. June 2011: Freedom of information missing in 6th German ICCPR state report.
28. January 2010: My advice to Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway.
14. April 2009: ECHR Application no. 37374/05 by TÁSZ against Hungary recognizes access to public documents as human right.
02. December 2008: Norwegian Foreign Ministry answers.
17. November 2008: Application to Norwegian Foreign Minister to access documents on Convention on Access to Official Documents
Summer 2008: When will the last 5 German states adopt FOI laws?
10. December 2007: "Recognise My Right" Campaign to support the work of the Council of Europe
20. December 2006: International Mechanisms for Promoting Freedom of Expression: JOINT DECLARATION by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE, the OAS and the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
05.June 2006: FOI in Germany: Six Months After Implementation: Last slide: Federal government does not favour binding convention
16. May 2006: How much uranium is in mineral water?
11. Nov. 2005: Complaint to ECHR. 8 March 2006: The Court will deal with the case as soon as possible.
19. Oct. 2005: Complaint to UN Petition team.
30. July 2005: When will FOI be realized in local states?
01. June 2005: Hillbilly CSU Zeitlmann says FOI law is harmful and unnecessary.
11. May 2005: Parliamentary Reading of FOIA cancelled.
28. Sep. 2004: Who supports Access to Information for Germany?
02. Mar. 2004:German NGOs publish their own FOI draft law.
13. Dec. 2003: 68th Anniversary of Nazi Law on Legal Advice.
23. June 2003: Swedish solution for Freedom of Information in Germany?
24. Feb. 2003: Will chancellor Schröder promote Freedom of Information?
17. Jan. 2003: Why failed Freedom of Information in Germany?
23. June 2002: Result: I was enthusiastic one year ago, because Germany had the chance to catch up with the international development. Who is responsible for that this chance was wasted?
29. May 02: Would a web site www.article19.de help?
18.04.02: Complaint to Centre for Human Rights of the United Nations (copy to Bundestag (German parliament) and Landtag)
February 2002: Lamble, Stephen. (2002) “Freedom of Information, a Finnish clergyman’s gift to democracy”, Freedom of Information Review, No. 97, February 2002, pp. 2-8.
06.01.02: Letter to Council of Europe
02.01.02: To attract additional interest to freedom of information (described in my German page) this page was created to try to gain support of the European institutions and the European public.
27.12.01: Petition to the European Parliament. Addition 7. July 2002. Admission and conclusion: Improving the protection of the rights and interests of citizens of the Member States of the Union is listed in Article 2 as an objective of the Union. (see page 7/173 doc. A5-0318/2000).
20.12.01: Petition to German Parliament
23.06.01: The German ministry of internal affairs invited citizens to participate in an Internet Discussions. I welcome the plans of a freedom of information law for Germany, a chance to catch up with the international development.
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Council of Europe, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Estonia, European Union, Finland, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad und Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan.
The global trends on the right to information are investigated by ARTICLE 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression. Considering both laws and constitutions FOI is widely recognized as human right. Right2Info.org gives an overview. FOI is based on
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights includes FOI in Article 19.
Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights includes the right to seek information. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Confirms Right of Access to Government Information 19. September 2006 in case Marcel Claude REYES et al. v. Chile Case No. 12.108:.
Article 9 of the African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights includes freedom of information. The Organization of African Unity is working on a Convention on Combating Corruption.
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights includes Freedom of opinon 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. 11. April 2006 the ECHR decides in case GERAGUYN KHORHURD PATGAMAVORAKAN AKUMB v. ARMENIA Application no. 11721/04 to communicate the freedom to reveive information to Armenia.
right2info.org gives an overview on constitutional protection of the right to information: In Sweden - with longest tradition - FOI is found in the Constitution (Chapter 2, Article 1 (2)). The constitutions of many other countries i. e. Albania (Art. 23), Belarus (Art. 34), Belgium (Art. 32), Bulgaria (Art. 41), Croatia (only for journalists: Art. 38), Czech Republic (Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms: Art. 17), Estonia (Art. 44), Finland (Constitution, Section 12), Georgia (Art. 41), Hungary (Art. 61), Lithuania (Art. 25), Macedonia (Art. 16), Moldavia (Art. 34), Netherlands (Art. 110), Poland (Art. 61), Portugal (Art. 268), Rumania (Art. 31), Russian Federation (Art. 29), Slovenia (Art. 39), Slovakia (Art. 26), Spain (Art. 105 b), Argentina (Art. 43), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi (Art. 37), Mongolia (Art. 16, 17), Mozambique (Art. 74), Nepal (Art. 16), Panama (Art. 42,43,44), the Philippines (Art. III, Sec. 7), Peru (Art. 200(3)), the Republic of South Africa (sec. 16), Tanzania (Art. 18(2)), Tajikistan, Thailand (Sec. 58), and Turkmenistan (26) all guarantee the right to access information held by the State.
Name with Link
Parliamentary Assembly, 1979
Parliamentary Assembly, Recommendation 854 (1979) on access by the public to government records and freedom of information
Council of Europe, 1981
"Recommendation No. R (81) 19" on the access to information held by public authorities
Parliamentary Assembly, 1986
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
European Court for Human Rights, 2006
Council of Europe, 2006
Binding Convention. CDDH: Project 2004/DG2/74 “Guaranteeing the right of the public to have access to official documents”: http://wkeim.bplaced.net/files/project_2004dg274.htm
Council of Europe, 27. November 2008
Charter of Fundamental Rights gives a right of
access to European
FOI laws came first to Scandinavia (Sweden (1766), Finland, Norway, Denmark and Island), then to English speaking countries (USA (1966), Ireland, England (UK)) and at last to German speaking countries (Austria (1986), Switzerland und Germany).
FOI laws in other European countries are collected here. Germany still lacks Freedom of Information in 5 of 16 states as nearly the only major country in Europe.
of Information came 1766
to Sweden, 1951
to Finland, 1966
to den USA, 1970 to Norway
to Denmark 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. Both EU and nearly all countries in
the EU and Europe adopted such laws. However citizen rights vary and
there are no minimum standards. In order to keep up with the
international development freedom of information should be
strengthened in EU member states. Here is a petition
to the European Parliament.
Support Freedom of Information, by
the following call of Statewatch (click here):
I/We support the call to EU institutions for a democratic and accountable "Open Europe" on access to documents.
Freedom of Information came 1951
to Finland, 1766
(1949) to Sweden, 1966
to den USA, 1970 to Norway
to Denmark. In 1981 the Council of Europe gave "Recommendation
No. R (81) 19" on the access to information held by public
authorities. Germany is the only country in the EU without such a
law. In order to keep up with the international development freedom
of information should also be adopted in Germany.
Support the German Freedom of Information Law, by the following E-Mail to the German Government (click here):
I support the call to the German Government for a democratic and accountable Freedom of Information Law on access to public documents.
(You may change the text according to your needs).
The Federal Republic of Germany is the only country in the EU without FOI. But 11 of 16 federal federal states (Bundesländer) Brandenburg, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saarland, Hamburg, Thuringia and Rheinland-Pfalz have adopted FOI. Opposition parties in the states of Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt have suggested FOI laws. Unfortunately parliaments in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and Saxony have voted against FOI laws.
Support the Freedom of Information laws in the states of:
with the following E-Mail:
I support the call to the German Federal State (Bundesland) Government for a democratic and accountable Freedom of Information Law on access to public documents.
(This E-Mails is send to the parties governing the state, with a copy to the opposition suggesting the FOI law. You may change the text according to your needs).
Warning: I do not accept any liability that the information on these pages is correct, accurate or up to date!
Please feel free to link this site!
Thanks to all, who gave me this information. Please do not hesitate to mail me if you have additional information.
Visitor No. since 2. January 2002
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