Promoting access to information for defence of civil liberties and human rights

In the past decade, the European Union and its member states have introduced a large number of measures which are designed to prevent and combat terrorism. These measures include communications data retention, biometric passports, DNA collection and CCTV surveillance. In the post-September 11th climate it has proven remarkably easy for governments to advance and adopt measures which impact on fundamental rights including the rights to privacy, freedom of association and expression, detention without trial, and freedom of movement.

If members of the public are to monitor these new measures to ensure that they are proportionate and necessary, it is imperative that there be access to information. Access Info and Statewatch have identified, however, that it is difficult to obtain significant information about planning for and implementation of many of these measures.


Access for Rights

Access for Rights is Access Info’s new European civil liberties project which we are embarking on in collaboration with Statewatch.

In this area of our work we address the need for greater transparency of security and counter-terrorism measures in Europe in order to minimise the negative impact that these measures are having on civil liberties, including on freedom of expression, media freedom, the right to privacy and the right of access to information itself.

This project will identify the main measures that have been or will be introduced by the EU and by national governments in the name of promoting security and counter-terrorism and will map out which information is and is not available about these measures producing comparative data that can be used in advocacy work by civil liberties groups.

The project will also strengthen the capacity of civil society to use the tool of access to information (freedom of information) to engage in debate about existing and proposed measures and to evaluate their impact on human rights. Access Info’s research shows that national and EU access to information rules are currently underused by civil liberties and human rights organisations in many countries across Europe.