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Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand in Relation to the Handling of a Public Interest Disclosure

The Ministry of Finance caused an impropriety related to the principle of legal certainty, the right to fair administration of official matters and the right to petition in the course of handling a public interest disclosure that was received through the protected electronic system, the Ombudsman concluded. Dr. Ákos Kozma requested that the Minister of Finance take measures in order to prevent the future occurrence of the fundamental rights-related improprieties exposed.

On 13 December 2018, the whistleblower submitted a public interest disclosure through the protected electronic system operated by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in relation to Case No. KBV-294/2018. In the submission, the whistleblower stated that the National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary established generally binding rules of conduct under different terms, which, in the whistleblower’s view, could only be laid down in a piece of legislation. As the acting body did not provide any response by 17 September 2019, the violation of the above-cited fundamental rights was suspected in that respect. With a view to the time elapsed, the case was closed in the protected electronic system on 17 September 2019, and simultaneously, the Ombudsman launched an inquiry in the course of which he contacted the Ministry of Finance.

In his report on Case No. AJB-615/2020, Dr. Ákos Kozma found that the Office had sent a so-called letter of invitation for registration by post with an advice of delivery to the acting body – i.e. to the Ministry of Finance – with regard to the first use of the electronic system. In this letter, the Office provided a registration code which was required for logging in at the Office’s website www.ajbh.hu, as well as the necessary technical information in relation to the use of the system. The Ministry of Finance failed to respond to the whistleblower after the public interest disclosure had been sent to it through the electronic system. Due to the Ministry’s failure to fulfil the obligation to provide information, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded that it had caused an impropriety by violating the principle of legal certainty, the right to fair administration of official matters and the right to petition.

The Ombudsman called upon the Minister of Finance to take measures in order to prevent the future occurrence of the fundamental rights-related improprieties identified in his report.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-615/2020.