Victory in the Fight for Access to Information
The Serbian security services breached Article 10 of the European Convention, when they rejected to reveal information about the number of persons who were subjected to electronic surveillance in 2005. Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which clarifies conditions under which public authorities may limit or restrict the right to free access to information.
Civil Rights Defenders’ partner Youth Initiative for Human Rights filed the first request to the Intelligence Agency in October 2005. The request was rejected with an explanation that the information is a state secret. After exhausting all available legal remedies, Youth Initiative filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights.
Youth Initiative argued a violation of the rights guaranteed under Article 10 (the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information) and Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the European Convention.
European Court of Human Rights decided unanimously that the applicant’s right to receive and impart information was breached. The Intelligence Agency had also breached the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance.
Civil Rights Defenders considers the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights to be a great incentive for triggering the issue of accessibility of documents in possession of security services. The ruling also clarifies the conditions under which public authorities may limit or restrict the right to free access to information.