Danish Lawmakers Considering Changing Blackout Law

23 March 2016

The Danish ombudsman has put on hold his analysis of a controversial provision limiting public access to ministerial communications, saying he does not wish to “short circuit” ongoing talks among parliamentarians about pulling back the so-called blackout law.

The development is reported (in Danish) in various media articles: Feyns, Information and Politiken.

Ombudsman Jørgen Steen Sørensen is continuing to investigate specific cases, he said in a letter to the Legal Affairs Committee.

The negotiations among all five political parties concern Section 24 of the Public Records Act, which permits nondisclosure of documents prepared for ministers and is called the “meroffentlighedsprincip.” The prevailing sentiment seems to be to that the provision is too tight.

The ombudsman had asked ministries to report on their use on Section 24.

Separately, an Information study has found that three out of five ministries replied to request only after public statutory time limit of seven days.

Professor of Administrative Law Carsten Henrichsen from the University of Copenhagen is quoted in Fyens as saying that the average response time of just under 30 days as “obviously totally unsatisfactory.”

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