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Rule of law further eroded – NGO meeting with EU Parliament’s LIBE committee

On 25/9/2012, NGO representatives shared their views with the delegation of the European Parliaments’s LIBE committee concerning the Hungarian legal developments relevant from the perspective of fundamental European principles and values.

Representatives of the Eötvös Károly Institute (EKI), the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) held a one-and-half hour long meeting with the members of the European delegation on Tuesday.

The European Parliament instructed the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee to prepare a report on whether the Hungarian legal reforms and the new Fundamental Law are in compliance with basic values and enshrined in the Treaties of the EU and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The LIBE delegation’s three-day long fact finding mission ended today, and they met several governmental politicians, former and current high ranking state officials, human rights activists and intellectuals.

Representatives of the EKI, the HHC and the HCLU explained that in their view governmental measures undermine the rule of law, eliminate the checks and balances of the Government, restrict fundamental freedoms, and narrow autonomy by referring to „effective governance” and to „two-third majority in Parliament”.

In the course of the meeting the following issues were addressed: the restriction of the power of Constitutional Court, the reform of the judicial organisation and court administration which threatens the independence of judges and courts and violates citizens’ right to fair trial, the forced retirement of judges, the restriction of the rights of the parliamentary opposition, the changes related to the authority responsible for the supervision of data protection, and, finally, the arbitrary and centralized media regulation jeopardizing freedom of speech and opinion. The NGO representatives also emphasized that the fairness of the next elections could be questioned if – according to the present governmental plans – they would be preceded by prior obligation to register as voter.

The LIBE delegation posed questions – inter alia – concerning the secret surveillance powers of Terror Prevention Centre, the impact of media regulations on public confidence in press, the possible reasons of forced retirement of judges and reorganisation of the judicial system, the cases transferred by the president of the National Judicial Office, the situation of NGOs and their possibilities to be involved in the law-making process with special regard to laws initiated by private MPs.

The English fact sheets serving as background materials for the event can be downloaded at the following links:

  1. Administration of Courts
  2. Mandatory Retirement of Judges
  3. Rights of Opposition
  4. Constitutional Court
  5. Data Protection
  6. Media Regulation
  7. Church Law


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Hungarian Helsinki Committee