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Recent changes of the Hungarian Constitution vs. human rights

‘The events that took place in Hungary over the last days of 2011 are especially alarming in the context of human rights protection’, said experts at the press conference held as part of the activities of the Sejm Committee for Justice and Human Rights.

During 18 months of the Fidesz party’s rule, Hungary saw curbing the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Tribunal, which is no longer competent to review any law that has an impact on e.g. budget or taxes, and enacting a new Constitution that has attracted a great deal of criticism. At the end of 2011 all the members of the National Council of Judiciary were dismissed. Likewise the President of the Supreme Court was ousted from office. Dr. Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President, says that the Hungarian government ‘is in the process of dismantling the country’s democratic system’.

The situation in Hungary has been already criticised by France and the European Commission. ‘The United States Ambassador in Hungary protested by boycotting the ceremony of promulgating the new Hungary’s constitution’, said Ryszard Kalisz, Chairman of the Sejm Committee for Justice and Human Rights. The Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies any comment.

‘This is sad. If Poland was going through the similar process, we would want the international community to take a stance’, said Adam Bodnar. ‘We expect an act of solidarity from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs (…) our colleagues from Hungarian non-governmental organisations would gladly welcome any expression of solidarity as they believe that the international pressure is what may bring about any changes in Hungary’, concluded Mr Bodnar.

According to Karolina Wigura (Kulturaliberalna.pl) the democratic system in Hungary is currently drifting towards authoritarian rule. ‘It is our view that we cannot overlook this fact’, said Ms Wigura.

Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska went on further and cited actual examples of infringements of the freedom of speech that have taken place in Hungary in recent years and which can be traced back to the amendment of the media act. ‘Recently, the Hungarian Media Council has withdrawn the frequency of Klubradio, the country’s only independent information radio station. The Council justified its decisions by arguing that the frequency used until now by Klubradio had to be allocated to a musical radio station’, said Ms Bychawska-Siniarska. The expert also recalled the recent ban on the presence of  reporters in the Parliament and the dismissal of nearly 600 public media journalists.

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