Information Delayed is Justice Denied: Lengthy Procedures Deny the Right to Access Information

 

European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2016 that European Convention on Human Rights guarantees a right to access information held by public authorities. While according to international documents procedures for accessing information should be ‘rapid’, the courts have yet to rule on what “rapid” means and when procedures are so long that they violate rights of those asking for information. This paper analyses the lenght of proceedings in access to information cases in five European democracies: United Kingdom, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia. It shows that – at least in these five countries – there is no mechanism for effective protection of rights. The authorities can easily delay the disclosure of information for several years. The paper then presents solutions for improving access to information procedures in order for them to become ‘rapid’.