Apparatchiks can be named, court rules in precedent case

Atlatszo has successfully sued the government over its refusal to release the names of former communist party officials. The High Court of Justice of the Capital verdict  represents a milestone for the freedom of historical information, as apparatchiks can no longer cite personal data protection to conceal their former roles and actions.

The lawsuit was prompted by the government blanking out the names of people whose pensions had been cut because their roles in the communist regime made them “undeserving” of supplementary payments, according to a list drawn up by Public Administration and Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics and a panel of historians.

The ministry had then refused to release the names in its response to an information request, despite the Basic Law stating that the personal data of „holders of power under the communist dictatorship” can be disclosed to the public, and filed a counterclaim to atlatszo’s legal action, arguing that the investigation of the communist dictatorship is the task of the state and not a civil organization. It also refused to release data about deceased “holders of power”.

The court of first instance ruled in favour of atlatszo, however, and told the ministry to publish the names unless the pension cut affected a widowed spouse.

The original Hungarian language coverage was posted in October 2013 here and here. Translated by atlatszo.hu volunteers, edited by Dan Nolan.