What can the individual burger do??

Interview with Walter Keim, who is suing Germany for lack of freedom of information at the United Nations, and is now also filing a Verfangsklage (a lawsuit against Germany).

Telepolis reader Walter Keim, a dedicated netizen from Trondheim in the Nordic region who has been promoting freedom of information in Germany via the Internet for months, has filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee against Germany for failing to provide general freedom of information. This week he will also file a lawsuit with the same request at the German Federal Interception Court. Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti spoke with him for Telepolis:

Why did you file a complaint with the United Nations?

germ: I would like to point out that Germany is at the bottom of the league in Europe in the area of freedom of information at the federal level and in 12 of 16 German states. Do we really need the last Balkan state to overtake us?? What success do you expect from the UN complaint??

Keim: The human rights committee of the United Nations already criticized many, also European states. States can’t be directly forced to give more rights, but criticism would be an embarrassing loss of face. What success do you expect from the Verfangsklage?

Keim: The United Nations says freedom of information is a human right. The Basic Law says that Germany is committed to human rights. Can the court afford to reject it here?? What would the European public say about this?? How did the EU and the EU Convention react?? You live in Norway. What is different, better in Norway in terms of freedom of information?? Which positive experiences could you make there?

Keim: As for the burocrats, there seems to be the same tendencies in Norway and Germany. In Germany, however, the right to inspect files is much more limited than in Norway. I would like to call the inspection of official documents the most unpopular legal regulation among all bureaucrats. In Norway, if an authority refuses to grant access, it must accept the complaint. Most of the time the official concerned gives in in advance – because he has to justify a refusal, with insight the matter is settled. In my experience, the plaintiff always wins in the higher instance. The bottom line: In Norway, there is a free complaint system that works. In case of a refusal, citizens can also appeal to the Ombudsman. He then contacts the official in question. Often the plaintiff retracts the refusal and you get the insight. How many people have supported your e-mail petitions on your homepage??

Germ: I don’t know exactly. A few have written to me that they have sent one of the suggested emails. But many have turned to me with cries for help. Often it is about medical malpractice. The fact that citizens in Germany have only inadequate patient rights is what ultimately brought me to the topic of freedom of information. It has also brought me into contact with partner sites such as arztepfusch. I knew that Germans have fewer rights than other EU citizens. But that the health care system may have 25.I was not aware of the fact that the number of deaths was so high, that it was so difficult for the injured to get help, that unnatural causes of death were often not clarified. I am deeply shocked. You have written countless letters to politicians. What feedback have you received?

Germ: The fact that German burgers – unlike Scandinavian and EU burgers at the EU administration – have no right to a response means that many letters are in vain. But if the request is carried on in a petition, then one has also in Germany the right to an answer. Why is there no right of reply in Germany?

germ: The official mold is obviously stronger in Germany than elsewhere. What were the petitions you submitted to the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg about??

Keim: In the first petition, the ie was that the AOK wanted to enforce staff cuts by agreeing on a compensation arrangement. Here, in the end, the AOK has given in. The second petition was about the delay of a claim for a higher care level. Only the social court moved the AOK to answer and raise the level. The Petitions Committee of Baden-Wurttemberg has indeed bent the AOK, but in doing so has not wanted to see the insufficient patient rights. The Petitions Committee of the Bundestag, which is responsible for these federal laws, said that I wanted to take legal action against the Petitions Committee of Baden-Wurttemberg. Finally, in another petition I demanded patients’ rights. But here I have since the 25. October no answer received.

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