Parliament passes law hindering FOI requests
Using a fast-track procedure that limits debate, the Hungarian Parliament yesterday approved amendments to the Freedom of Information Act that make it more difficult to obtain data through public queries, Hungarian online daily index.hu reported today.
Under the new law, if data is considered important in reaching a decision, the government can decide not to share that information, even if it is requested, András Schiffer, an MP and leader of the opposition LMP (green party) was quoted by Index as saying.
Tímea Szabó, an MP with the opposition PM party, reportedly added that this means the government is not required to publish any information on the upgrade of Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant in Paks.
According to Schiffer, the law also stipulates that, if a public query requires “extensive work”, then the individual who filed that query could be charged for the processing involved in gathering the requested information.
In reference to earlier political scandals, Index said that under the recently modified law, the Hungarian public would not be able to access information about Cabinet Chief János Lázár’s alleged overspending at taxpayerʼs expense during official trips.
Yesterday the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, opposed the fast-track passing of the law, saying that access to information is fundamental in providing transparency and accountability in public affairs and that relevant stakeholders need to be consulted before such amendments are passed.
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