EU asked to halt information clampdown

Feb. 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM
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BRUSSELS, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A public letter signed by journalists and other groups asked the European Union to halt its proposals to stifle access to public documents.

The letter, signed during the weekend by 131 groups, including transparency campaigners and environmental non-governmental organizations, and 56 investigative journalists, said the European Commission's intention to rein in its 2004 freedom of information rules would "substantially reduce the number of public documents" available upon request, the EUobserver reported Wednesday in Brussels.

The proposed rules, set for approval in coming weeks, would allow only formally transmitted documents to be made available on request by a member of the public, precluding the availability of thousands of documents passed informally between European officials, the EUobserver reported.

"Everyone in Europe has the right to know what their elected representatives are doing with the power entrusted to them and how the public's money is being spent. Our representatives should be fighting to extend the rights of citizens, not reduce them," Helen Darbishire, director of Access Info Europe, a lawyer group that trains people how to demand governmental documents, said.

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