Council of Europe adopts a wide “Right to Know”

The Assembly urged European governments to create a broad “right to know” – consisting of maximum transparency in public life, a vibrant and diverse media, and a rich educational and cultural environment – in order to encourage democratic participation and combat “post-truth” disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion.

Adopting a resolution based on the report prepared by Roberto Rampi (Italy, SOC), the parliamentarians said such a “right to know” would enable every citizen to “be actively informed of all aspects regarding all stages of the policy-making and administrative / rule-making processes, in order to allow for full democratic participation”.

It would be created through “an ecology of public policy instruments” which maximise access to official documents and company ownership records, promote free access to scientific and scholarly knowledge, guarantee a pluralistic and independent media with full transparency of ownership, and counter the “culture of secrecy” in certain areas of public life.

It would also encompass wider measures to encourage public understanding and critical thinking in a democratic society, such as easy and life-long access to art, culture, literature, music, theatre and museums.

The adopted text lists a series of specific measures governments – as well as other private partners – could take to guarantee such a right. These include ratifying the Tromsø Convention on Access to Official Documents, expanding company and financial reporting obligations, improving the regulation of lobbying, making media ownership and financing more transparent, and encouraging “open access” to academic research.

The Assembly also proposed “an independent national monitoring system of the legality, correctness and completeness of information delivered by all national media”, with monthly public reports, and parliamentary and citizen oversight of the algorithms used by social media companies.

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