“That’s it, enough! Today, I am filing a criminal complaint against unknown perpetrators for the serial misuse of data of public interest by the Fidesz government, more specifically the Ministry of Human Capacities,” announced Socialist MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Public Health István Ujhelyi at an online press conference on Wednesday.
Referring to the chorus of the opposition alliance’s campaign song, the MSZP politician said “the power belongs to the people,” just as information and data of public interest belong to the people, and therefore the government cannot withhold them. According to Ujhelyi, the Fidesz government is “making a habit” out of not allowing journalists, civil and professional organizations, or even elected representatives to access certain data of public interest, and the Ministry of Human Capacities is leading the way in this respect.
At the press conference, István Ujhelyi recalled that in the past period he had turned to the government on a number of issues (primarily in connection with data related to epidemic management or professional programmes), but in the vast majority of cases the competent ministries refused to release data of public interest.
MSZP’s European politician pointed out that in January this year, the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) had already conducted an investigation at his initiative into the refusal to provide data of public interest on the circumstances of the acquisition of covid vaccines, as a result of which the state authority had censured the EMMI and called on it to provide the requested data, but the ministry has not done so since then.
Ujhelyi added that one of his most recent requests for data concerned the vaccination statistics, from which Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler quoted some excerpts during a radio interview, but refused to disclose it in full with the socialist politician. He added that he had been trying to obtain the vaccination statistics for months, but the government has so far refused to say clearly who is in charge of managing the relevant data. “It is outrageous how the government and its servants treat the public interest and their own duty,” Ujhelyi remarked.
At the press conference, the MSZP MEP said that he decided to file a criminal complaint because the EMMI (Ministry of Human Capacities) had recently refused to give the politician access to the National Cancer Control Programme, saying it was a “document for preparing decisions.” According to Ujhelyi, the professional disclosure of the relevant material would be of the utmost importance because the European Union is currently in the process of developing and expanding its anti-cancer plan, which is one of the most important pillars of the European Health Union, which he initiated.
According to the MSZP politician, elements important to Hungarians can only be successfully incorporated into the European cancer strategy if the government material relating to it is accessible to the public; however, even as a member of the EP’s responsible committee, he is denied access to the documents. He pointed out that, most recently, with the legal help of the Hungarian Association for the Protection of Human Rights (TASZ), Háttér Society recently won a lawsuit against EMMI in the Budapest Municipal Court, which ordered the Ministry to release the requested health programmes (including the National Cancer Control Programme), which has not yet happened. “I am convinced that the government, led by EMMI, is knowingly and unlawfully withholding data of public interest. Enough is really enough! They think they can get away with anything.
Although they are only in power for a few more weeks, we must show that neither the current government nor the next one can abuse its power. That is why I am filing a criminal complaint under the relevant sections of the Criminal Code,” István Ujhelyi concluded at his press conference.
Budapest/Brussels – 16.03.2022.