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Socialist MEP to Turn to Data Authority over Govt Pandemic Documents

MTI-Hungary Today 2021.03.31.

An opposition Socialist (MSZP) MEP said on Wednesday that he is turning to Hungary’s data protection authority (NAIH) to enforce his request for access to the government documents related to the coronavirus.

In a statement, István Ujhelyi said government officials have not responded to his “repeated lawful requests” for access to documents containing data of public interest on vaccine procurements and details on how the pandemic has been handled.

Ujhelyi noted that in early February he first submitted his request for the relevant data to the human resources ministry and the chief medical officer, seeking to learn “important and relevant information hushed up … by the government” such as the ordering schedule and arrival of vaccine shipments. He insisted that he had received a response “full of unimportant details with no real content”.

In a response, the government information centre (KTK) noted in a statement that the government has already released vaccine purchase contracts it concluded to the public, whereas “Brussels is keeping [its own contracts] a secret”.

KTK said that if Ujhelyi wanted transparency, he should turn to Brussels to obtain their contracts and release these to the public.

“This should inform every Hungarian about why [EU-procured] vaccines are arriving in Hungary much later and in far smaller quantities than in non-EU member Great Britain or Israel,” KTK said.

featured image: István Ujhelyi; Attila Kovács/MTI