The new Bill amending rules on courts, submitted on 12 November to the Hungarian Parliament, should not be adopted in its current form.
Judicial independence has been under constant threat in Hungary since 2012. The Government recently abandoned its plan to set up a separate, heavily government-controlled administrative court system, but Bill T/8016 submitted by the Government to the Parliament on 12 November 2019 seems to be yet another attempt to make sure that politically sensitive court cases are decided in a way that is favourable for the executive power. If adopted, this substantial omnibus Bill (amending several pieces of legislation) will have a significant negative impact on judicial independence, however, in a much more covert and technical way than the earlier, withdrawn plan to put administrative courts under the Minister of Justice. Bill T/8016 would not only make it possible to channel politically sensitive cases out of the ordinary court system and put them into the hands of Constitutional Court judges nominated and elected by the ruling majority, but would also make it harder in practice for individuals to enforce their rights vis a vis the state.
In its recent statement regarding the Bill, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe expressed the view that “the Bill in its current form may have a negative effect on the internal independence of courts and judges and fair trial guarantees for individuals”, and urged the Hungarian Parliament to modify it. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee joins the Commissioner in her concerns and is of the view that Bill T/8016 should not be adopted in its current form.
Read our full analysis on the Bill here: Proposed new law threatens judicial independence in Hungary – again
>>> A newer version of our analysis from January 2020, updated on the basis of the adopted text of the law, is available here: New law threatens judicial independence of the judiciary – again