The European Court of Human Rights threw out a lawsuit filed against the European Union (EU) that would have forced the EU to reveal how it funds various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Jerusalem-based nonprofit NGO Monitor filed the lawsuit nearly three years ago, arguing that the European Commission (EC)—the EU’s executive body—allegedly refused to release funding documents despite repeated requests by NGO Monitor. The European Freedom of Information law states that such information must be made freely available upon request. The EC, however, cited reasons of “public security,” “privacy” and “commercial interests” for keeping the documentation secret, Haaretz reported.
NGO Monitor researchers identified that the EC provided nearly $48 million from June 2005 until the lawsuit was filed to nongovernmental organizations working in Israel and Palestinian Authority territory, many of which, according to the nonprofit, seek to legally isolate Israel and conduct boycott campaigns against the Jewish state. After the current lawsuit was thrown out, the court also ordered NGO Monitor to pay the costs for the EC’s legal defense.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor and a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, condemned the human rights court’s decision, stating that “for over 10 years the EU has been keeping the information regarding funding of NGOs in complete secrecy.”
“[The EC’s] explanation is public security and commercial interests,” Steinberg said, according to Haaretz. “My conclusion is that they have something to hide. In addition to a violation of basic principles of government transparency, the secret funding is trying to manipulate the democratic process in Israel. We will continue to seek the relevant documents in order to provide the missing transparency.”