Waiting for Transparency in Luxembourg: Eleven Years and Counting
Madrid, 20 June 2011 – Today marks exactly eleven years since Luxembourg’s “freedom of access to information” law was first proposed, but the law has not yet been adopted. Luxembourg is one of the only countries in the European Union (and the wider Council of Europe region) not to have such a law.
Human rights organisation Access Info Europe today sent a letter to Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker calling for Luxembourg to improve the draft and adopt a law in line with highest European and democratic standards.
The pro-transparency organisation also wrote today to Alex Bodry of the Chamber of Deputies, the original promoter of the law, and current rapporteur in charge of this file, enquiring what happened since a March 2010 initiative to bring the draft back to life.
Globally there are around 90 access laws, with most recent adoptions being Nigeria (28 May 2011) and Mongolia (16 June 2011). In the EU only Cyprus, Luxembourg and Spain do not yet have a law guaranteeing the public’s right to know about the functioning of the State.
“Luxembourg, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is failing to achieve even minimum standards when it comes to open government, public participation, and accountability,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
Testing of access to information in Luxembourg by Access Info has shown that in practice the country is falling far short of international standards. As reported in March in The Secret State of EU Transparency Reforms, Luxembourg’s government has failed to provide information to Access Info Europe about its position regarding the reform of EU access to documents rules. Repeated requests for this information yielded, after 77 days, the answer that it was “physically impossible to compile such a file” and a comment from the Foreign Ministry that an answer had been sent merely “out of politeness” (see page 19 of the report.
“Luxembourg’s treatment of requests falls short of the international standards which oblige public authorities to respond to the requester in a timely manner, providing specific reasons in the case that access to a document is refused,” commented Access Info Europe researcher Pamela Bartlett Quintanilla.
To read the draft law, in French, click here
To read The Secret State of EU Transparency Reforms, click here
To see the full press release (including notes to the editor), click on your preferred format