EU funds Effective remedy for manipulated judicial appointments is necessary to restore independence of the judiciary

Victory against Figyelő: Don’t blacklist individuals – even if you are the regime

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Váltás magyarra

In 2018, the government propaganda outlet Figyelő published a blacklist of 200 members of civil society and academia – including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee staff –, calling them “Soros mercenaries”. It took years to have it confirmed in court: the list is unacceptable and capable of fear-mongering.

Zsolt Szekeres, Anna Ibos, István Perczel, Tamás Fazekas, Dávid Vig, Anikó Bakonyi, Áron Demeter, Erzsébet Mohácsi, and Diána Katalin Sebestyén before the hearing.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee represented those 34 plaintiffs (of whom 24 are not public figures) who took the case to the Metropolitan Regional Court against the publisher Mediaworks. We wanted the court to condemn the publisher for making members of civil society, university professors, and employees out as traitors. In late September, we succeeded at first instance. The judgement is not final yet.

The court emphasised that the “Soros list” caused damages to private and public figures alike: not even public figures are obliged to endure such personal attacks. Beyond apologising, Mediaworks must pay a HUF 14 million (EUR 34,000 in total) compensation for damages to our insulted friends and us.

Listing people this way was an especially harmful element of the government’s smear campaign against civil society. Not only it evoked the darkest times by blacklisting people, but it also questioned the moral and professional integrity of citizens working for a better society, threatening them and their family members. This practice can by no means enjoy the privileges of free speech or journalistic freedom because it only serves the government’s interests by stigmatizing imaginary enemies. We find it our duty to step up against such intimidation in the interest of our society, and we respect everyone who, undertaking all inconveniences, decided to do so with us.

During the hearing.

 

Ferenc Kőszeg, Balázs Tóth, Tamás Fazekas, István Perczel, Anikó Bakonyi

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