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The right to seek, receive and impart information

- Introduction
Freedom of information is considered a fundamental human right, protected by international and constitutional law, that should essentially be promoted to the maximum extent possible given its critical role in democracy and public participation in political life. Freedom of information refers primarily to the access of information held by public bodies, reflecting the principle that they do not hold information on their own behalf, but rather for the benefit of the public sphere. However, it also includes the right to seek, receive and impart information. - International standards

The Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. This means that freedom of expression, one of the fundamental freedoms, do not only refers to opinions and thoughts but also to information that can or can not be related to them. Thus, Article 19 brings an expansion of the scope of freedom of expression, since it refers to all the processes involving information, which are not only its transmission but also the search and access to it. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a legally binding treaty adopted by the General Assembly in 1966, enshrines the right of freedom of expression, but suggests that it may be restricted by legal norms that are necessary “for respect of the rights or reputations of others”. Moreover, it specifies on Article 19(2) that: “[…] this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writ in or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.

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