Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand in Relation to Handling a Public Interest Disclosure - AJBH-EN
Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand in Relation to Handling a Public Interest Disclosure
The local government of the municipality of Nagytarcsa caused an impropriety in relation to the right to petition and the right to fair administration of official matters, as well as to legal certainty while handling a public interest disclosure, Dr. Ákos Kozma established in his inquiry. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights asked the mayor and the town clerk concerned to take action in order to prevent the future occurrence of improprieties such as the ones exposed.
The complainant turned to the Ombudsman in relation to the administration of his public interest disclosures submitted to the local government of the municipality of Nagytarcsa. In his request of legal review, he explained that with a view to the protection of the local inhabitants’ living environment, he had asked the local government to initiate the introduction of weight restrictions for lorries with a maximum mass exceeding 3.5 tons on that particular section of distributor road no. 3101 j. which is located in the urban areas of Nagytarcsa. As a result of his petition and the eventual complement thereof, a prohibited zone (“limited traffic zone – except for terminating traffic”) was introduced for vehicles exceeding 7.5 tons. Despite the above, the local government gave contradictory and belated information, its inquiry was not complete, and the complainant did not agree with its outcome. According to the complainant, no real solution was offered to the problem, i.e. one which would have taken into consideration the concerns of those inhabitants of Nagytarcsa who live next to the road section in question, and which would have effectively restricted the traffic of heavy duty vehicles. Consequently, the inhabitants continue to be affected by noise and vibration exposure and dust pollution due to the intense traffic.
In his report on Case No. AJB-320/2021, Dr. Ákos Kozma found that in the initial phase of the examination of the public interest disclosure, the local government had satisfied its procedural and information obligation prescribed by Section 2 of Act CLXV of 2013 on Complaints and Public Interest Disclosures. However, in the subsequent phase of the administration of the public interest disclosure, the information provided by the local government was self-contradictory. The partial information provided upon the Ombudsman’s request and later on, the lack of a written reply to his specific questions prevented the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights from clarifying the facts.
The Ombudsman concluded that in this case, the local government did not give comprehensive information to the complainant during the administration of the latter’s public interest disclosure, thereby causing an impropriety in relation to the right to petition and the right to fair administration of official matters, as well as to legal certainty. Moreover, by causing a significant delay in the review procedure, by giving insufficient answers upon multiple requests, and by prolonging and obstructing the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the local government violated the requirement of legal certainty deriving from the principle of the rule of law.
Dr. Ákos Kozma asked the mayor and the town clerk of the local government of the municipality of Nagytarcsa to take action in order to prevent the future occurrence of improprieties such as the ones exposed, that is, to ensure that the organisational units of the local government pay more attention to the administration of public interest disclosures and to their full compliance with the relevant legislation. Furthermore, he asked the organ under inquiry to elaborate a proposal of measures for the further future reduction of traffic on the road section concerned, and keep the complainant and the Office informed about it. In connection with the introduction of weight restrictions, the local government referred several times to the obstruction of the entrepreneurial zone that had already developed, therefore the Ombudsman called the municipality’s attention to the fact that when drawing up their settlement pattern plans, the neighbouring settlements must also take into consideration the fundamental rights of the other settlements affected, and also to the fact that the right of entrepreneurship is neither absolute, nor unrestrictable.
For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-320/2021.