Dutch ombudsman criticises government secrecy

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National Ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer has criticised the Dutch authorities for being too secretive. In an interview with Dutch Christian daily the Nederlands Dagblad he says, “Nothing is allowed out. The authorities even try to prevent citizens from gaining access to information requested under the Government Information Act.

It is in the interests of democracy that requests under the act are honoured even if it damages ministers thinks Mr Brenninkmeijer. However instead of honouring requests for government information, lawyers are put to work to find reasons to prevent information getting out. Years of legal wrangling means long delays before people are finally given access to information.

The ombudsman calls for more transparency and sees no reason why the minutes of cabinet meetings cannot be published when it concerns day-to-day issues. The Green Left have launched an initiative proposal to expand access to government information. The party says the current law has too many faults. Access to government information should be a right and not a favour. According to the Green Left MP Mariko Peters, the Dutch authorities are the slowest in the world to handle requests for information by its citizens.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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