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Enforcement of the Human Right of Access to Information in Bavaria/Germany

The Council of Europe and UN secure access to information in conventions. Domestic juridical/administrative remedies have to be exhausted first. Afterwards it is possible to complain to international bodies. In 5 German states a general access to information law is missing. The X. Baltic Sea NGO Forum examined the "The role of international lawmakers and their respective influence on national legislation on access to information" and suggested juridical remedies. Therefore a complaint against Bavaria was filed 14. July 2012. The appeal was denied 14. February 2014. Therefore a constitutional complaint 1 BvR 897/14 has been necessary and was filed 17 March 2014 and can be supported her. 13. January 2016 the Constitutional complaint was rejected. Therefore a complain to UN and the European Court of Human Rights was filed.

Juridical remedies

Germany ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR). According to Article 46 ECHR Germany is bound by decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Domestic juridical/administrative remedies must be exhausted in order to complain to the UN Human Rights Committee [5] and the European Court of Human Rights [6].

Conventions of UN and Council of Europe

Access to documents of public administration is a human right according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [1, 4, 5] and jurisdiction [6] of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the basis of the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR) [2] and is seen as a precondition for democracy and important in the fight of corruption.

UN, OSCE and AOS confirm in their Joint Declaration by the Three Special Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression 6. December 2004, that Access to Information is a human right: [3]:

„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."

The "General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR" says [4]:

"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, regardless of the form in which the information is stored, its source and the date of production."
"19. (...) States parties should also enact the necessary procedures, whereby one may gain access to information, such as by means of freedom of information legislation."


The federal Freedom of Information law (IFG) in Germany violates the principal of maximum disclosure of public documents. 90 states with more then 5.5 billion [9, 10] inhabitants adopted better ATI laws. 5 German states do not have ATI laws at all. 125 states [11] with 5.9 billion inhabitants i. e. 84 % of mankind adopted ATI laws or secured access to information in there constitutions. Can this human right be enforced by courts?

Complaint against Bavaria

100 States adoptet FOI laws. Bavaria lacks a FOI law, to access public documents of all sectors. The report CommDH(2007)14 of the Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg about his visit to Germany 9. – 11. and 15. – 20. October 2006 suggests to add human rights to the core curricula in the legal education and practical training of lawyers and educate judges and administration in human rights. The petition II/VF.0993.15 to the parliament in Bavaria suggests to follow the recommendation and educate judges and administration in human rights. 3. July 2008 the parliament answered: "The petition is finished on the basis of the statements of the government." This means the suggestions are dismissed. Both the parliament Landtag, the ministry of justice (Justizministerium) and ministry of interior (Innenministerium) refused to give access to these statements, because it was written for the parliament. 13. December 2011 [7] access was again requested, because the human right of access to information is recognized by more then 115 states [11] with 5.9 billion inhabitants. These requests were rejected 23. January 2012 and 31. January 2012 with insufficient reasons. On 14. July 2012 a complaint to the administrative court in Munich was filed [8].
13 June 2013 the court ruled to deny access e. g. because: Judgement BVerwG, of 16.09.1980, BVerwG 1 C 52.75 says that ECHR does not include access to public documents only access to generally accessible sources (e. g. newspapers). An appeal was filed 25 July 2013. The appeal was denied 14. February 2014. Therefore a constitutional complaint 1 BvR 897/14 has been necessary and was filed 17 March 2014. On 13. January 2016 the Constitutional complaint was rejected. Complaints to ECtHR and the UN Human Rights Committee are filed.







Sources:

  1. Access to information is a human right according to UN: http://right2info.org/international-and-regional-law-standards#section-0

  2. Access to information in ECHR: http://right2info.org/international-and-regional-law-standards#section-4

  3. UN, OSCE and AOS Joint Declaration by the Three Special Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression 6. December 2004: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2005/2/article1

  4. "General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR": http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/comments.htm

  5. Complains to UN Human Rights Committee: http://right2info.org/cases#section-6

  6. Jurisdiction European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): http://right2info.org/cases#section-2

  7. Application for access of the reasons why the suggestions of the Human Rights Commissioner have been rejected: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/ifg-einsicht.htm

  8. Complaint Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) Munich: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/vgm-2012.htm

  9. Access to Information Laws: http://right2info.org/access-to-information-laws

  10. FOI Laws: Counts Vary Depending on Definitions: http://www.freedominfo.org/2011/10/foi-laws-counts-vary-slightly-depending-on-definitions/

  11. Constitutional Provisions, Laws and Regulations: http://right2info.org/laws


Answers to complaint (VG München Az. M 17 K 12.3408):


Follow-up:


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Colours on picture: dark green: FOIA enacted. Yellow: pending law.. FOIA= Freedom of Information Act