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Semjén wants to get the Freedom of Information to be less free by next week

Yesterday we reported that Hungary’s Justice Ministry submitted a bill on Friday which would have the government charge a fee for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and extend the legally required response period from 15 to 30 days. Deputy Prime Minister Semjén Zsolt (pictured) yesterday decided to push the bill through the parliament under a procedure which grants an exceptional status, meaning a vote before the end of the Spring session.

Parliament may already start debating the bill today and a final vote may take place as early as next Monday.

The ministry, led by Minister of Justice László Trócsányi, had the legislative proposal quietly uploaded to the Hungarian parliament’s website Friday. The bill contains provisions that would allow state organs to charge those requesting information in order to complete the information request, as well as doubling the deadline for response.

Anti-corruption non-governmental organisations and government watchdog groups are critical of the bill on grounds that it would make Hungary’s already shaky Freedom of Information system a lot less free.

Benjamin Novak :