Tarsasag A Szabadsagjogokert v Hungary: ECHR 14 Apr 2009

The court upheld a complaint by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union that, contrary to article 10, it had been refused access to details of a complaint in connection with drugs policy on the basis that details of the complaint could not be released, according to domestic law, without the consent of the author.
Held: After referring to Leander, the court said that ‘the court has more recently advanced towards a broader interpretation of the notion of the ‘freedom to receive information’ (see Sdruzeni Jihoceske Matky v [Czech Republic], no 19101/03, 10 July 2006 [being the first of the decisions we have in mind]) and thereby towards the recognition of a right of access to information.’
Article 10 may be invoked not only by those who seek to give information but also by those who seek to receive it.
The Court recalls at the outset that ‘Article 10 does not … confer on the individual a right of access to a register containing information on his personal position, nor does it embody an obligation on the Government to impart such information to the individual’ and that ‘it is difficult to derive from the Convention a general right of access to administrative data and documents’. Nevertheless, the Court has recently advanced towards a broader interpretation of the notion of ‘freedom to receive information’ and thereby towards the recognition of a right of access to information.
In any event, the Court notes that ‘the right to freedom to receive information basically prohibits a Government from restricting a person from receiving information that others wish or may be willing to impart to him’. It considers that the present case essentially concerns an interference – by virtue of the censorial power of an information monopoly – with the exercise of the functions of a social watchdog, like the press, rather than a denial of a general right of access to official documents. In this connection, a comparison can be drawn with the Court’s previous concerns that preliminary obstacles created by the authorities in the way of press functions call for the most careful scrutiny. Moreover, the State’s obligations in matters of freedom of the press include the elimination of barriers to the exercise of press functions where, in issues of public interest, such barriers exist solely because of an information monopoly held by the authorities. The Court notes at this juncture that the information sought by the applicant in the present case was ready and available and did not require the collection of any data by the Government. Therefore, the Court considers that the State had an obligation not to impede the flow of information sought by the applicant.’


[2009] ECHR 618, 37374/05, (2011) 53 EHRR 3




European Convention on Human Rights 10


See alsoTarsasag A Szabadsagjogokert v Hungary ECHR 13-Nov-2008
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union sought access to details of a legal challenge filed by a Hungarian parliamentarian in the Hungarian Constitutional Court concerning the constitutionality of legislative amendments to the Hungarian Criminal Code. . .
CitedLeander v Sweden ECHR 26-Mar-1987
Mr Leander had been refused employment at a museum located on a naval base, having been assessed as a security risk on the basis of information stored on a register maintained by State security services that had not been disclosed him. Mr Leander . .

Cited by:

CitedSugar v The British Broadcasting Commission and Another (No 2) CA 23-Jun-2010
The respondent had had prepared a report as to the balance of its reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier proceedings had established that the purposes of the holding of the reporting included jurnalism. The claimant now appealed . .
CitedKennedy v The Information Commissioner and Another CA 12-May-2011
The claimant, a journalist, sought further information from the Charity Commission after the release of three investigations into the ‘Mariam Appeal’ and questions about the source and use of its funds. The Commission replied that it was exempt . .
CitedKennedy v Charity Commission CA 20-Mar-2012
The claimant sought disclosure of an investigation conducted by the respondent. The respondent replied that the material was exempt within section 32(2). The court had found that that exemption continued permanently even after the inquiry was . .
CitedGuardian News and Media Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court CA 3-Apr-2012
The newspaper applied for leave to access documents referred to but not released during the course of extradition proceedings in open court.
Held: The application was to be allowed. Though extradition proceedings were not governed by the Civil . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Media

Updated: 19 August 2022; Ref: scu.417814