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[经济学人] [2009.02.26] Freedom of information 信息自由:唯他们独享

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发表于 2010-4-29 02:51 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Freedom of information 信息自由

For their eyes only  唯他们独享 (注1)

Feb 26th 2009
From The Economist print edition

No, you can’t know why the cabinet decided to invade Iraq
入侵伊拉克的决定之内幕无须让你知道



EVER since Britain joined the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, those opposed to the war have explored all avenues to discover just how the decision to do so was reached. One of those avenues has now been blocked. On February 24th the government vetoed rulings by official freedom-of-information watchdogs that it should release the minutes of two cabinet meetings just before the invasion.

自从2003年英国参与了以美国为首的入侵伊拉克行动开始,反战人士就利用一切途径调查英国参战的决定是如何做出的。但其中的一条途径现在被堵塞了。2月24号,英国政府否决了官方的信息自由监管部门的一项裁定。该裁定要求开放入侵伊拉克前的两次内阁会议记录。

It is the first time since the Freedom of Information Act came into force in 2005 that the government has invoked a clause allowing it to refuse to comply with a ruling of the Information Tribunal. Even Labour MPs had slunk from the House of Commons by the time the decision was announced. No appeal against the veto is possible, although there is a slim chance that a judicial review may be sought.

这是自2005年《信息自由法案》生效以来,政府首次援引法律条款,拒绝接受信息法庭的裁决。当这项决定宣布的时候,由于羞愧,许多工党的议员悄悄溜出了议会大厅。对此项否决提起上是不可能的了,要推翻该否决唯一的一丝希望是寻求司法审查

Campaigners had hoped to learn more about cabinet deliberations on the lawfulness of invading Iraq without UN authorisation. At around the time of the two crucial meetings, the attorney-general provided two separate legal opinions, ten days apart. The first expressed reservations; the second was more gung-ho. How much did ministers know about Lord Goldsmith’s initial caveats? How free were they to question the basis for his opinions?

反战人士曾寄希望于能够了解更多的内阁会议情况,想知道在没有联合国授权的情况下内阁是如何寻找入侵伊拉克的法律依据。在这两次关键的内阁会议前后,总检察长戈德史密斯勋爵在十天的时间内分别给出了两种完全不同的司法。其先表达的观点保守,认为出兵伊拉克缺乏法律依据;其后则认同了入侵伊拉克的合法性。大臣们对总检察长起初的警告是否完全知晓?大臣们是否不受约束的质疑过他做出判断的依据?

The controversial case began in 2007, when a member of the public, turned down by the Cabinet Office when he asked for minutes of the meetings, applied to the information commissioner to require their release. The commissioner, Richard Thomas, agreed that the public interest in knowing what legal advice had been placed before cabinet outweighed the government’s concerns about undermining the confidentiality of cabinet deliberations. The government appealed to the Information Tribunal, and lost. Short of complying, that left ministers with two options: appealing to the High Court to overturn the tribunal’s ruling, or vetoing it. They chose the more certain one.

这起引起广泛争议的事件起于2007年。当一位普通公民要求查看内阁的那两次会议纪要时遭到内阁办公厅的拒绝,他转而上诉至信息专员办公室要求解除这一禁令。理查德汤玛斯专员认为公民希望了解内阁得到了什么样的法律建议是一种公众利益,其重要性超过了可能对于内阁会议造成泄密的危害,裁决内阁必须公开其会议纪要。政府又上诉至信息法庭,但遭到驳回。内阁如果坚持不解密会议纪要,只有两条路可走了。其一是上诉至高等法院,请求推翻信息法庭的裁决。其二是行使否决权,拒不接受裁决。政府选择了最可靠的第二条路线。

The cabinet, said the justice secretary, Jack Straw, had also based its decision on a calculation of the public interest. Although the minutes of cabinet meetings do not identify individuals, they are by convention kept private for fear that ministers might otherwise censor themselves, or that minuted decision-making might give way to informal discussions elsewhere. Publishing records of cabinet proceedings risked damaging British democracy itself, he said, and that risk was more serious than any posed by non-disclosure. As it happens, Mr Straw was foreign secretary at the time of the Iraq invasion.

司法大臣杰克•斯特劳说:内阁也是基于公众的利益做出了这一决定。虽然内阁会议纪要并不详细记录参与讨论的每个人的发言,但依惯例依然要加以保密。否则内阁大臣们就不会畅所欲言,或者使列入纪要的需做出重大决定的内阁会议沦落为非正式的讨论会。他强调说,公开内阁决策过程的记录将危害英国自身的民主。这种危害及其严重,摆出个信息公开的姿态而造成这种危害对英国而言是得不偿失。但非常巧合的是,斯特劳先生是入侵伊拉克时期英国的外交大臣。

It is unlikely in any event that the minutes would reveal much that is not already in the public domain. Since 2003 no fewer than four of the ministers who sat in cabinet then have spoken or written of the meetings. This, said the tribunal, was evidence of a dwindling respect for the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility, to which confidentiality is said by the government to be so crucial. It also suggests that, in refusing to publish the minutes, a more serious concern for the government than the possible inhibition of free and frank debate in cabinet was the probable confirmation that on this occasion, at any rate, there wasn’t any.

相关的信息在各种公开出版物中早已有详尽记载,内阁会议纪要无论如何也披露不出什么新东西。2003年以来至少有四位当时曾参加了内阁会议的大臣谈论或在文章中记叙过这两次会议。信息法庭指出,尽管政府声称这两次会议的保密性至关重要,大臣们公开谈论此事证明内阁集体负责制的原则没有得到尊重。此外,从这一事件还可看出,担心大臣们在内阁会议上对畅所欲言的辩论存有顾虑只是一个借口。政府真正担心的是一旦输了这场官司,将会成为类似情况下的判例。现在好了,不用再为这种可能担心了。


注1: 《For your eyes only》是007系列电影《最高机密》中的插曲。
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发表于 2010-4-29 03:01 | 显示全部楼层
嗯,翻得不错!

第二段,“上述”?输入法打成错别字了吧:lol
judicial review 通常是指“司法审查”。“复议”通常用reconsideration。

第三段,legal opinions 似乎翻译成“法律意见”更贴切。“司法解释”似乎是judicial interpretation。

第四段,High Court 并不是英国的最高法院。一般译作“高等法院”。参见:http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/chn/lsyw/lsbh/ckzl/t520956.htm

第五段,and that risk was more serious than any posed by non-disclosure. 这里斯特劳只是在比较disclosure与non-disclosure的情况,并没有直接说“比冒犯一点人们的信息自由权要严重得多”的意思(尽管其言语有这样的暗示)。我认为,对于政治人物的这种言论在翻译时不宜多加发挥。
末句As it happens, Mr Straw was foreign secretary at the time of the Iraq invasion. 漏译。

第六段,最后一句理解错误。
It also suggests that, in refusing to publish the minutes, a more serious concern for the government than the possible inhibition of free and frank debate in cabinet was the probable confirmation that on this occasion, at any rate, there wasn’t any.
这句话的要旨在于:for the government,比the possible inhibition (of free and frank debate in cabinet)更严重的关切(more serious concern)在于the probable confirmation (that there wasn’t any (inhibition))。也就是说政府害怕的不是公开纪要破坏了内阁政府的制度,而在于公开纪要恰恰会证明其丝毫无损内阁制度;换言之,此后政府将很难藉口保密的必要性来规避信息自由法案赋予民众的知情权——这显然是不利于政府自身利益的。

关于英国的信息自由和民众知情权利的情况,可参见:
http://shangwutousu.mofcom.gov.c ... 03753146=2317437730
http://www.hkhrc.org.hk/content/features/handbook/ch9.doc
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发表于 2010-4-29 03:11 | 显示全部楼层
非常感谢witt!
指点的非常仔细,提供的资料很有价值。意见全部接受。
已经修改完毕。望继续拍砖。
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