Brussels, November 8 (MTI) – Hungary’s authorities violated the Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s right of access to information when they refused to release information on appointed counsels, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.
In the case, the Helsinki Committee had sued 28 local branches of the national police after they refused to provide information on the attorneys they had appointed to counsel defendants in investigations in 2007 and 2008. The Committee sought to determine if the police selected a group of lawyers preferentially and associations between the police and the attorneys had curbed the right of defendants to efficient counsel.
In its ruling, the European Court said that hiding information on the activities of appointed counsels is against the European right of free expression and access to public data. The ruling also said that the Hungarian government’s arguments citing the protection of attorneys’ personal data had not proven sufficient.
The Helsinki Committee welcomed the ruling and pointed to its significance saying that it would facilitate legal remedy in the future should the authorities deny access to public information under Hungarian law.