Danish Government Seeks To Protect Decision Documents

8 February 2013

The Danish government Feb. 7 officially presented changes to the freedom of information law that were negotiated in late 2012 among the leading political parties.

Particular controversial are  amendments that would reduce access to documents prepared by government officials about the creation of  government policy, according to a newspaper report.

“The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), explained that the law was designed to protect ministers from being targeted in the media while they develop their ideas,” the article said. It continued:

“Politicians need to have the opportunity to try out ideas and get feedback during the legislative process that we are constantly working on,” Bødskov told Politiken newspaper. “In general I don’t think that the public affects the legislative process. But both our proposal and the former government’s proposal are built upon recommendations made by the Freedom of Information Committee and strike a balance between more openness on the one hand, and introducing some limitations on the other.”

The proposals have been long in the making. Similar proposals in 2010 were dropped in the face of opposition. In October 2012, the government rewording to the clause excluding ministerial documents from Freedom of Information requests. (See previous FreedomInfo.org reports.)

The Justice Ministry has said the amendments would not be debated in parliament before a vote, the article says.  “I think this process has been very telling about what will happen under the new legislation,” Pernille Skipper told Politiken.

The new “offentlighedslov,” which also contains reforms that FOI advocates consider positive, is expected to pass.

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