Transparency or openness, citizen's right to be informed and to have access to information is an indispensable requirement for a democratic society. It is generally agreed that openness is the only way to insure accountability and to prevent abuses of power by the bureaucracy.
Readers of our media may have an impression that lack of transparency is a problem of the past or in far away lands. Not true at all! Bureaucratic jinn armed with secrecy jumps out of the bottle at every opportunity also right now and right here where we live and work. We should be ever vigilant to keep it restrained.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And unrestrained power corrupts without restraint. Not only in far away lands. More precisely, impunity corrupts. Every bureaucrat should feel that his or her abuses will be investigated and punished.
According to recent media reports and our own experience, Amtsgeheimnis - official secrecy, seems to be a favourite word of Swiss bureaucrats. Lack of transparency in Switzerland appears to have systemic roots in the legislation. Art. 22 of Federal Personnel Regulations is extremely vague and open to any interpretation. ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Regulations contain Art. 57 which obliges employees keep secret those matters which, by their nature or according to a special provision, must be kept secret. Vague "secret by nature" in Art. 57, open to any interpretation, apparently puts a threat of prosecution over any person disclosing anything about employment-related matters. And even if an actual prison term is unlikely, loose mouths risk losing a lot of money for lawyers and court expenses. Helps keep those mouths which have no own lawyer on payroll firmly shut.
Such legislation is an open invitation to bureaucrats to use Amtsgeheimnis to cover abuse and mismanagement. And, as we mentioned above, many of the bureaucrats do not miss this opportunity.
The purpose of this site is to publish information about bureaucratic abuses of power, especially those abuses in which Amtsgeheimnis plays a role.
We need volunteers, English-German and German-English translators, lawyers and a webmaster.
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