Spanish High Court orders disclosure of documents about OGP citing European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence

Spain’s High Court has ruled that Access Info Europe should have access to Spanish Government documents related to participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in an important ruling where the Court for the first time makes reference to the right of access to information in international treaties.

In a final decision, which is not open to appeal, the High Court rejected the Spanish Government’s attempt to classify progress reports on the OGP Action Plan as internal documents of an “auxiliary” nature.

In doing so, the Court reined in the controversial Article 18 of Spain’s 2013 Transparency Law – a provision that excludes access to “auxiliary” documents – arguing that there could be no exclusion for documents that are necessary to understanding how a decision is being or has been taken.

This is a hugely important ruling because it will help open up decision-making processes in Spain,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

The Spanish High Court referred to key international jurisprudence to bolster its argument that any limitations on the right should themselves be limited and that a broad interpretation should be given to “public information” in line with the spirit of the law.

It’s exciting that we are seeing references to the jurisprudence the European Court of Human Rights, which could eventually lead to a recognition in Spain of a fundamental right of access to information,” added Darbishire.

These judicial cases not only correct government errors, but they help the courts understand the right of access to information, incorporate international jurisprudence in to the Spanish legal system, and raise awareness about access to information as a fundamental human right as recognised by the European Court of Human Rights,” stated Enrique Jaramillo, Access Info Europe’s lawyer.

This somewhat surreal battle over access to documents relating to the Open Government Partnership dates back to August 2015 when, faced with a wall of silence from the Spanish Cabinet Office (Ministry of the Presidency) on progress in implementing commitments made under Open Government Partnership processes, Access Info’s director Helen Darbishire submitted an information request asking for documents that would provide status updates.

Not only did the Spanish Government refuse to provide full documentation in response to the initial information request, but when Spain’s Transparency Council ruled in favour of disclosure, the Government went to Court to challenge that ruling. This High Court ruling is now definitive, and the Ministry of Presidency should provide Access Info with the documents.

You can find the High Court ruling here (in Spanish).

3 comentarios
  1. Jacobo de Salas
    Jacobo de Salas Dice:

    Great news for justice and transparency.

    I wonder if the decision may point to a departure from the traditional deference that the Hight Court has for the Government in judicial review proceedings.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that the state attorneys (Abogados del Estado) represented both plaintiff and defendant? It looks like hell of a conflict of interest to me.

  2. Manu Oquendo
    Manu Oquendo Dice:

    This is really worth writing home about.

    What an opportunity for Acces Info Europe or any other institution to ask Puigdemont and Junqueras about their “Auxiliary Papers”!

    Even better
    How about a detailed listing of all subsidies, grants, donations and adevertising and propaganda contracts to promote and bring about sedition and insurrection?

    How about grants Denied to people who support the oppossite views; both in the Tarraconensis and in the rest of Hispania.

    For God’s sake, are we going to miss the chance now that we have High Court support?


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