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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.
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
right2know.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.
|Organization||Name with Link||Translation|
|Parliamentary Assembly, 1979||Parliamentary Assembly, Recommendation 854 (1979) on access by the public to government records and freedom of information||German|
|Council of Europe, 1981||"Recommendation No. R (81) 19" on the access to information held by public authorities|
|Parliamentary Assembly, 1986||Recommendation 1037 (1986). On Data Protection and Freedom of Information|
|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/de/treaties/dat/amsterdam.html||German|
|UNECE, 1998||United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: Environmental Matters: The Aarhus Convention: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/acig.htm|
|EU, 2000||Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, (2000/C 364/01): http://www.europarl.eu.int/charter/default_en.htm||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|
|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://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/project_2004dg274.htm||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|
of Fundamental Rights gives a right of access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
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
den USA, 1970 to Norway and
Denmark In 1981 the Council of Europe gave "Recommendation
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
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
(1949) to Sweden, 1966
den USA, 1970 to Norway and
Denmark. In 1981 the Council of Europe gave "Recommendation
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: Baden-Württemberg,
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!
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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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