Human Rights Guide


Társaság a Szabadságjogokért v. Hungary

European Court of Human Rights
14 April 2009


The applicant, a human-rights non-governmental organization, requested access to the complaint pending before the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court refused the applicant’s request. Subsequently, the applicant brought an action in the court for an order requiring the Constitutional Court to give it access to the file. The court dismissed the applicant’s action after finding that the requested data was “personal” and could therefore not be accessed without the approval of the complainant.


The applicant submitted that the Hungarian courts have violated its right to receive information of public interest.

Court's ruling

The Court ruled that the applicant’s right to receive information as a part of its right to freedom of expression had been violated, and that the state was obliged not to restrict the flow of information sought by the applicant. \r\nThe Court found that the refusal to access of the complaint had not been necessary and proportionate:

  • The Court characterized the applicant as a social “watchdog”, the activities of which warranted similar Convention protection to that afforded to the press freedom.
  • The constitutional complaint for abstract review of constitutionality constituted a matter of public interest.
  • Refusal to grant access for the applicant to the content of such complaint interfered with the legal gathering of information on matters of public importance by the applicant. Moreover, it amounted to a form of censorship.
  • As the constitutional complaint was submitted by the Members of Parliament, it could not be considered private.
  • The information sought by the applicant was ready and available and did not require any collection of any data.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education