a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 13-02-2015 / e) 4/2015 / f) On the publicity of the Foreign Ministry s personnel files / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 2015/15 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to information.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to administrative transparency - Right of access to administrative documents.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
File, access / File, personnel / Information, access / Judicial review, administrative act / Secrecy, administrative.
Article VI.2 of the Fundamental Law requires a new legal framework, which will make the operations of the state bureaucracy more transparent by guaranteeing a proceeding in which the court can review the merits of an administrative decision declaring certain public information or personnel information, that should be available for public inspection, as classified.
I. In the autumn of 2012 Atlatszo.hu, a watchdog NGO and online newspaper for investigative journalism had approached the Foreign Affairs Ministry to publish its personnel files, since according to Atlatszo.hu the ministry had failed to meet its legal obligations to disclose the information. The Ministry refused the request, citing diplomatic and national security reasons.
Atlatszo.hu turned to the court. The first instance court ruling stated that the Ministry s concerns were unfounded and ruled in favour of the online platform requiring to disclose data of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry s employee which cannot be considered confidential. In response to this, the Ministry declared all personnel information as classified.
After this move, the appeals court held it had no jurisdiction over a Ministry s autonomy in classifying its own data. In 2013, Atlaszto.hu took the matter to the Constitutional Court. (Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the successor to the Ministry that was operating in 2012.)
II. According to the Constitutional Court s ruling, the appeals court was correct in saying that it could not investigate the legitimacy of a ministry declaring its materials as classified. However, the Court agreed with the petitioner s claim that this court practice was in breach of the right of access to public information, ensured by Article VI.2 of the Fundamental Law. The Constitutional Court held that a new legal framework is required, which will make the operations of the state bureaucracy more transparent by guaranteeing a proceeding in which the court can review the merits of an administrative decision declaring certain public information or personnel information, that should be available for public inspection (the name, the citizenship of the public servant, his or her task, promotion, etc.), as classified. The Court gave Parliament until the end of May to remedy the situation and to adopt new legislation.