Germany Failing on RTI in Five States

1 July 2014

By Walter Keim

The following is the text of a letter sent June 27 by RTI activist Keim to Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

5 German states fail to respect human right of access to information, found for 84% of the worlds population. EUCoEOSCE and UN (HRC,OHCHRdo not help  

Dear Mr. La Rue,

I appreciate your commitment to the human right of access to public documents i. e. the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression e. g. E/CN.4/1998/40 28 January 1998, UN, OSCE and AOS Joint Declaration of 26. November 1999,E/CN.4/2000/63 18 January 2000, UN, OSCE and AOS Joint Declaration of 6. December 2004 and A/HRC/14/23, 20 April 2010. This is confirmed by the  “General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and successful individual Complains to UN Human Rights Committee.

However both national authorities and NGOs, regional ( EUCoEOSCE) and global mechanisms (CCPRUPRdid not support access to information and anticorruption in Germany.

Therefore I would like to draw your attention to access to public information (ATI) in Germany.

Summary:

  1. German authorities (governmentparliamentscourts) abuse national sovereignty e. g. to deny citizens in 5 Germany federal states the human right of access to public documents. Transparency and fight of corruption does not follow international standards [A]
  2. EU does not observe the problem but refers to CoEs “well established mechanisms”. [B]
  3. GRECO failed to observe the problem and did not support the human right ATI  in the of the Second Evaluation Round (report RC-II (2007) 3E) [C].
  4. The Council of Europe (PACE, GRECO, ECHR and Commissioner of Human Rights CoE) did not support the human right of ATI [DI]
  5. OSCE does not actively support transparency in Germany [E]
  6. HRC praises (the not existing ATI) high human right standards in EU and ignored a CCPR submission about the lack of the human right if access to information in Germany [FI]
  7. The Universal Periodic Review received and registered the contribution of the Baltic Sea NGO Forum on access to information [G] but does not mention this contribution and its contents on ATI in the “Summary of stakeholders’ information”. [H]
  8. Courts in Bavaria failed to support the human right of access to documents. Therefore a constitutional complaint was filed [J] in order to be able to complain to the the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Many petitions and complaints to Germany authorities (government, administration, parliamentscourtsNGOs) 2001 to 2012 did not help.

Because all national (including NGOs), regional (EUCoEOSCE) and UN (CCPROHCHRUN Petition UnitUPRmechanisms failed, I ask the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to support ATI in Germany. Both CoE (GRECO) and UN (HRCOHCHR (UPR)) participating committees did not do the job they are paid for.

New EU members have to adopt Access to Information (ATI) laws. However founding members do not. The lack of ATI laws is not even noticed. Both the EU Commission, the EU Parliament and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency do not help and write that this is the duty of the Council of Europe [B].

However the Council of Europe’s unit GRECO “well established mechanisms”failed to secure the human right of access to information necessary in a democratic society [C]. 

Unfortunately the European Court of Human Rights recognizes access to information only for the press, NGOs and watchdogs, leaving the individual right unprotected (Keim v. Germany: Appl. No. 41126/05Keim (II) v. Germany Appl. No. 31583/07 and Keim (III) ./. Germany Appl. No. 46953/09at the European Court of Human Rights.)

OSCE should support access to information, but did not answer when asked to support ATI in Germany [E].

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) focuses on other states.

In the context of the 106th CCPR session the Human Right Committee (HRC) does not observe that the human right of access to public documents is violated in Germany [F] assuming EU guarantees high human right standards.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Germany in April 2013 did not address this problem ignoring the submission of the Baltic Sea NGO Forum [G]. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ignores and censors the Baltic Sea NGO Forums contribution. [H]

5 out of 16 German Federal States, with more then half of the German population lack a general operational access to information laws or constitutional protection regime, which is found for 84% of the world population.  

In addition the federal Freedom of Information law in Germany is not in line with European, international and democratic standards. 5.5 Billion people i e. 78 % of the worlds population have better laws.

Access to documents of public administration is a human right according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [145] andjurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) [6] 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.”

Germany does not respect this human right and has problems with corruption prevention:

  1. 88 states with approx. 5.5 billion [10, 11] inhabitants give better access to information then the federal Freedom of Information Law in Germany (http://rti-rating.org/results.html).
  2. More then 120 states (http://right2info.org/lawswith more then 5.9 billion inhabitants adopted FOI laws or provisions in constitutions. 5 German states with half of the population lack FOI laws.
  3. The UN Convention against Corruption is ratified by more then 160 states with more then 6,5 billion inhabitants, but not by Germany.
  4. Germany did not ratify the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and does not follow Recommendation Rec(2003)4 on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns of the Council of Europe as GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) suggested 9 December 2009. Germany’s answer 29. June 2012 shows that no progress has been made [12]. Therefore GRECO submitted 28. Nov. 2012 the (Non-)Compliance Greco report RC-III (2012) 15E. [13]
  5. Germany is the only state in Europe which has not ratified any of these to conventions against corruption.

This embarrassing situation is due to the German press does not inform citizens and the public about this situation [7] and therefore many citizens still vote for the conservative party CDU/CSU, the only party in the civilized world denying its citizens the fundamental human right of access to information necessary for a living democracy [8].


Sincerely,

--
Walter Keim
Netizen: http://walter.keim.googlepages.com
Access to Information Baltic Sea NGO Forum: http://BSNF-ATI.tk/
Is it possible to enforce access to information in Bavaria?
http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/enforce_access_to_information.html

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 European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR): http://right2info.org/international-and-regional-law-standards#section-4
  3. 2004 Joint Declaration by the Three Special Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression: 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. OSCE, April 2012: COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT LAW ON TRANSPARENCY, ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND GOOD GOVERNANCE OF SPAIN: http://www.osce.org/fom/89577
  8. 24.07.2012: Offener Brief: Deutsche Presse größter Versager in der Welt beim Menschenrecht Informationszugang:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/120727pr.html
  9. 09.07.2012: Menschenrecht Informationszugang stärken: CDU/CSU ist das trojanische Pferd der Bürokratie im Parlament : http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/120709bt.html
  10. Access to Information Laws: http://right2info.org/access-to-information-laws
  11. FOI Laws: Counts Vary Depending on Definitions:http://www.freedominfo.org/2011/10/foi-laws-counts-vary-slightly-depending-on-definitions/
  12.  29.07.2012, Germany: Report on progress Greco-RC-III (2011) 9E:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/120729bmj.pdf
  13. GRECO (28. Nov. 2012): Non-Compliance Greco RC-III (2012) 15E Interim report:http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoRC3%282012%2915_Germany_Interim_EN.pdf

Published on Internet:

  1. Many petitions and complaints to Germany authorities (government, administration, parliamentscourtsNGOs) 2001 to 2012 did not help:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-de.htm
  2. 1. September 2012: EU does not Support the Human Right of Access to Public Documents in member states:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-eu.htm
  3. 24. August 2012: GRECO failed in Second Evaluation Round and must therefore do better in Third Round :http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-greco.htm
  4. CoE failed to support ATI in Germany:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-coe.htm,http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/pace1202.htm
  5. OSCE does not help Germany:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-osce.htm
  6. In the context of the 106th CCPR session  Human Rights Committee (HRC) did not observe that the human right of access to public documents is violated in Germany:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-ccpr-de.htm
  7. The Universal Periodic Review received and registered the contribution of the Baltic Sea NGO Forum but does not mention this contribution and its contents on ATI in the “Summary of stakeholders’ information“:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-upr-de.htm
  8. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ignores and censors the Baltic Sea NGO Forums contribution:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/foi-ohchr.html
  9. 4. November 2012: Should GRECO and HRC experts do the job they are paid for? http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/121104foianet.html
  10. Courts in Bavaria failed to support the human right of access to documents:http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/enforce_access_to_information.html
  11. 2014: 100 countries adopted RTI laws:http://www.freedominfo.org/2014/02/rti-law-passes-bhutan-100th-international-law/
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