Amendment to the Act on access to public information
On Friday, 16 September, the Sejm adopted the amendment to the Act on access to public information. Under the amended Act the right to information might be limited ‘to protect a serious economic interest of the state’. In July, following widespread criticism from NGOs, the provision was withdrawn by the Sejm Committee.
However, during the Senate debates on the amendment, senator Marek Rocki proposed a provision enabling the state to limit the right to information if ‘a serious economic interest of the state’ so requires, in one of the two situations: where disclosing such information could weaken the position of the state in negotiations, for instance on international or EU treaties, or where the property interests of the state must be protected in proceedings before courts and tribunals.
Prior to the Sejm’s session last Friday, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights called on Grzegorz Schetyna, Speaker of the Sejm, to disregard the amendment. In the Foundation’s opinion, the bill in its proposed wording may result in the significant limitation of the right to access to important public interest information regarding international actions of the state authorities. Despite this, the Sejm adopted the amendment. The bill was sent to the President who may sign it, veto it, or submit it for a review by the Constitutional Tribunal.
‘The only thing we can do now is to petition the President to veto the Act or have it reviewed by the Constitutional Tribunal under the preventive control mechanism’, says Adam Bodnar, deputy President of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.