bilder1 Deutsch

and mail this URL to your friends!

Freedom of Information (FOI) Laws

Mainly in Scandinavia, English Speaking countries and German speaking countries.

bilder2bilder3Freedom of Information - also known as access to information (ATI), 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 faught for democracy, equality, and respect for the human rights. 1888 followed Columbia, 1951 Finland (independent 1917) and 1966 the 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. Transparency was the Word of the Year 2003. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights gives in Article 42 a right of access to documents of the European Parliament, Council and Commission.

Contents:


Scandinavian Countries

Country

Name with Link

Translation

Sweden, (1766), 1949

Freedom of the Press Act (Tryckfrihetsförordningen): http://www.riksdagen.se/templates/R_Page____6313.aspx. Info on law

English

Finland, (1951), 1999

Act on the Freedom of the Press (1/1919), Act on the Publicity of Official Documents (83/1951), Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), (Finnish Constitution 94/1919, 17 July 1919)

Law_1919,
English

Norway, 1970

Offentlighetsloven: http://wkeim.bplaced.net/oeffentlichkeitsgesetz.htm

English

Denmark, 1985

Offentlighedsloven: http://www.au.dk/da/regler/1985/lov572/index.html

 

Iceland, 1996

Information Act : http://www.althingi.is/lagas/nuna/1996050.html

English


English Speaking Countries

Country

Name with Link

Translation

USA, 1966

Freedom of Information Act: http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foia_updates/Vol_XVII_4/page2.htm

 

Australia, 1982

Freedom of Information Act: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/foia1982222/

 

New Zealand, 1982

The Official Information Act 1982: http://www.ombudsmen.govt.nz/official.htm

 

Canada, 1985

Access to Information Act: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/A-1/8.html

 

Ireland, 1997

Freedom of Information Act 1997: http://right2info.org/laws#ireland

 

Hong Kong, 1998

Code on Access to Information: http://www.info.gov.hk/access/

 

Commonwealth, 1999

Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers at the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in May 1999, formulated and adopted the principles on Freedom of Information (point 21), Expert Group.

 

Trinidad and Tobago,1999

Freedom of Information Act 1999: http://right2info.org/laws#trinidad-tobago

 

Nigeria, 2011

Freedom of Information Bill: http://www.eienigeria.org/Signed_FoI_Act.pdf

 

England (UK), 2000

Freedom of Information Act: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/20000036.htm

 

South Africa, 2000

Promotion of Access to Information Bill: http://www.acts.co.za/Prom_of_Access_to_Info/Index.htm

 

India, 2000

Freedom of Information Bill: http://indiacode.nic.in/incodis/current/FIB2000.htm

 

Jamaica, 2002

Access to Information Act 2002: http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/ATI/ATIACT.pdf 

 

Pakistan, 2002

Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002: http://pi.greennet.org.uk/countries/pakistan/pk-foia-1002.html

 


German Speaking Countries

Austria, 1987

Bundesgesetz über die Auskunftspflicht der Verwaltung des Bundes und eine Änderung des Bundesministeriengesetzes 1986 (Auskunftspflichtgesetz) v. 15.05.1987, BGBl 287: http://huegelland.tripod.com/auskunft.htm

Germany, 1999-2001

In 4 of 16 "Bundesländern" (German local "states"): http://www.freedominfo.org/regions/europe/germany/http://www.hfv-speyer.de/hill/Akteneinsicht.htmhttp://www.bfdi.bund.de/, http://www.transparente-verwaltung.de/html/ifgs.htm or http://www.informationsfreiheit.org/gesetze/gesetz_laender.html (in English: Schleswig-Holstein)

Germany, Federal Republic, 2000

The government promised a law 1998, but the draft of FOI law dated year 2000 was stopped 2002: Informationsfreiheitsgesetz: http://www.heise.de/tp/deutsch/special/frei/7532/1.html

Germany, Federal Republic, 2002

The Coalition Agreement of the Schröder-Government: (Chapter: Demokratische Beteiligungsrechte und Datenschutz) http://www.spd.de/servlet/PB/menu/1023291/index.html announces again a freedom of information law.

Switzerland, 2004

FOI law was passed government 12. February 2003: Bundesgesetz über die Öffentlichkeit der Verwaltung : http://www.admin.ch/ch/f/ff/2004/6807.pdf. The law passed parliament 17. December 2004.

Germany, Federal Republic, 2005

The coalition has promised a law since 1998, but nothing has happened since 2000. Therefore German NGOs publish their own FOI draft law. The coalition got serious about FOI on 17. December 2004. 8. July 2005 the law passed the Senate (Bundesrat). Text of the law. (alternativ unofficial version)

Germany, states, 2006

Hamburg (2006), Bremen (2006), Mecklenburg-Pomerania (2006) and Saarland (2006): http://www.oci-gmbh.com/downloads/ifg/IFG-Rundbrief_4_2006_EN.pdf

Germany states, 2007

Thuringia adopted a FOI-law 20 December 2007.

Germany states, 2008

Parliaments in Saxony-Anhalt (May 2008) and Rhineland-Palatinate (June 2008) adopted FOI-laws.

The International Symposium "Freedom of Information and Data Protection in the Enlarged European Union" shows that maybe Germany would have to adapt FOI first to get goodwill, if it would apply to the EU today. The "European Parliament resolution on the situation as regards fundamental rights in the European Union (2000) (2000/2231(INI))" document A5-0223/2001 "notes ... that both the EU institutions and the Member States uphold the rights set out in the various Chapters of the EU Charter"

 

Laws in Europe:

bilder4On the lists above you find FOI laws of

Luxembourg (access for journalists) and Cyprus have a pending bill. Germany is in 5 of 16 states nearly the only major country in Europe without Freedom of  Information. In Cyprus access to information rights are part of the constitution. Here is a detailed survey of Christoph Sobotta for European states. 

 

Europäische Union (EU)

Organisation

Name with Link

Translation

EU Commission, EU Council, 1993

The Council and Commission adopted a joint Code of Conduct (OJ 1993 L 340/ 41), implemented through Council Decision of 20 December 1993 on public access to Council documents (OJ 1993 L 340/43) and Commission Decision of 8 February 1994 on public access to Commission documents, OJ 1994 L 46/58.

 

EU Treaty, 1997 (Amsterdam)

TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY: Article 255 http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/de/treaties/selected/livre252.html#anArt7

English

EU, 2000

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, (2000/C 364/01): http://www.europarl.eu.int/charter/default_en.htm

German

EU Parliament, EU Council, 2001

Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Official Journal L 145 , 31/05/2001 P. 0043 - 0048

German

EU, 2003

Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information. Official Journal L 345 , 31/12/2003 P. 0090 - 0096

German

EU Ombudsman, 2005

The European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, 05. January 2005

German

Article 42 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 255 of the Treaty are implemented by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 for the European Parliament, Council and Commission. A selection of legal texts concerning public access to documents including case law.


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

Europarat , 2003

Recommendation Rec(2003)4 on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns


European Court for Human Rights, 2006

Rechtssache Sdruženi Jihoceské Matky gegen Tschechische Republik, Antrag Nr. 19101/03 vom 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://wkeim.bplaced.net/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, 14. April 2009

ECHR Application no. 37374/05 by TÁRSASÁG A SZABADSÁGJOGOKÉRT against Hungary: ( admissible)

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)

English

European Court for Human Rights, 26.May 2009

Kenedi ./. Hungary Beschwerde Nr: 31475/05 

German

European Court for Human Rights, 2. November 20011

GILLBERG ./. SWEDEN, (Application no. 41723/06): http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2012/6/article1

German

European Court for Human Rights, 25 June 2013

CASE OF YOUTH INITIATIVE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS v. SERBIA (Application no. 48135/06): http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2013/8/article1

German

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), 2 October 2013

Resolution 1954(2013) entitled “National security and access to information”: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2013/10/article3

German

European Court for Human Rights, 28 November 2013

CASE OF ÖSTERREICHISCHE VEREINIGUNG ZUR ERHALTUNG, STÄRKUNG UND SCHAFFUNG EINES WIRTSCHAFTLICH GESUNDEN LAND- UND FORST­WIRTSCHAFTLICHEN GRUNDBESITZES v. AUSTRIA
(Application no. 39534/07)

German

ECHR, Thursday, 24 November 2016

MHB v Hungary Judgment on Access to Information (Application no. 18030/11) "[t]he function of bloggers and popular users of the social media may be also assimilated to that of “public watchdogs” in so far as the protection afforded by Article 10 is concerned."

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.(ICCPR) (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?

UN Special Rapporteur, 1999

JOINT DECLARATION
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 met for the first time in London on the 26th of November 1999


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, OAS Special Rapporteurs, OSCE Representative, 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

German government 11 Feb. 2011

Germany tried to remove the human right of access to public documents and other human rights from the Draft General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 ICCPR (see page 17 of the notes of the meeting of the Human Rights Committee 18 MARCH – 24 MARCH 2011).


Tenth Joint Declaration by the Four Special International Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression, 3. February 2010

Although great strides have been made over the last decade in recognising the right to information, the fourth challenge recognises that much still remains to be done... Many laws that have been passed fail to meet minimum international standards, and implementation efforts remain too weak in many countries: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2010/5/article1

German

General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR, 21. July 2010

Human Rights Committee - General Comment No. 34: "18.  Article 19, paragraph 2 embraces a general right of access to information held by public bodies. Such information includes all records held by a public body...": http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/comments.htm

German

UN. ACHPR, OAS Special Rapporteurs, OSCE Representative, 12 June 2013

GLOBAL PRINCIPLES ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION (“THE TSHWANE PRINCIPLES”)

German


 

Support Freedom of Information for European Institutions: Call for an "Open Europe" (Statewatch)

bilder5Freedom of Information came 1766 to Sweden, 1951 to Finland1966 to den USA, 1970 to Norway and 1985 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.

 

Support FOI by E-Mail to the Federal Government in Germany

Freedom of Information came 1766 (1949) to Sweden, 1951 to Finland, 1966 to den USA, 1970 to Norway and 1985 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).

Support FOI by E-Mail to the Federal States (=Bundesländer) in Germany 

bilder6bilder7The Federal Republic of Germany is nearly the only country in the EU without FOI. But 11 of 16 federal federal states (Bundesländer) Brandenburg, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Bremen, Saarland, Hamburg, Thuringia and Rheinland-Pfalz have adopted FOI laws. Opposition parties in the states of  Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt  have suggested FOI laws. Unfortunately parliaments in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Saxony have voted against FOI laws.

Support the Freedom of Information laws in the states of: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony 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. bilder8 since 25. July 2001

 

[Back to page on Freedom of Information]    [Petitions]    [Patients Rights in Europe]   [Violations of Human Rights]     [Back to Homepage]