The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today expressed its concern about the secrecy around the Council of Europe’sConvention on Access to Official Documents, which is still in draft form and has been heavily criticised by civil society organisations including the EFJ. Now it is being finalised under a shroud of secrecy.
“While the EU is revising its regulation on access to documents based on the Commission’s proposals which, unfortunately, have been highly regressive, we expected the Council of Europe to adopt an even stronger position,” said Arne König, EFJ President. “ Instead, we hear that the world’s first international treaty on access to information is being decided upon behind closed doors to the detriment of the public’s right to know what their elected representatives discuss and decide on their behalf.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is composed of delegations from the national parliaments of the 47 countries, adopted a very critical opinion of the treaty in October and identified several problems of the draft treaty. It called for the Council of Europe to allow more time for redrafting.
The Committee of Ministers, chaired by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, will vote on the convention’s adoption on 27 November. Civil society groups as well as the EFJ affiliate in Sweden, the Swedish Journalists Federation (sjf), have called on Minister Bildt to ensure that their concerns are considered before any vote is scheduled.
The European Federation of Journalists represents about 260 000 journalists in over 30 countries.
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