About us

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is a non-profit human rights watchdog NGO established in Budapest, Hungary in 1994.

HCLU is a law reform and legal defence public interest NGO in Hungary, working independently of political parties, the state or any if its institutions. HCLU’s aim is to promote the case of fundamental rights and principles laid down by the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary and by international conventions. Generally it has the goal of building and strengthening the civil society and rule of law in Hungary and the CEE region. Since HCLU is an independent non-profit organization the financial resources are largely provided by foundations and more and more likely by individuals.

The members and supporters of the HCLU

The highest body of the HCLU is the General Assembly. The general meeting selects the members of the Executive Committee. The members of the Executive Committee administer the daily work of HCLU, they elect the President the Union, and they may recommend for the General Assembly the adoption of new members. The members of the Executive Committee and the permanent staff of HCLU carry the daily affairs of HCLU. They discharge the publicly announced services, and they formulate HCLU position on key issues of legal policy.

A Board of Advisors assists the work of the Executive Committee. The Board consists of renowned jurists, lawyers and physicians with whom we have evolved daily working relations. It is the duty of the Board of Supervisors - whose members are elected by the General Assembly - to supervise the activities and financial operation of the Executive Committee.

Charter of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Board of Advisors

Judit Fridli sociologist, president of HCLU between 1994-2004
Gábor Halmai constitutional lawyer, director of  The Hungarian Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre
Ethan Nadelmann director, Drug Policy Alliance
Zoltán Simon communication expert, creative director of the DDB Budapest
Balázs Szabados journalist
István Szikinger constitutional lawyer
Gábor Attila Tóth constitutional lawyer, founder member of the HCLU

Board of Supervisors

György Fehér, lawyer
Weil, Gotshal Manges LLP
Zsuzsanna Szelényi, deputy director
European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe
István Teplán, economist
Executive Vice President of the Central European University

Executive Committee

Levente Baltay
Balázs Dénes, Executive Director
Andrea Pelle
Péter Sárosi

Staff Members

Tivadar Hüttl, Andrea Polgár, Péter Sárosi, Stefánia Kapronczay, Ferenc Bagyinszky, Gábor István Takács, Éva Simon, Katalin Sós, Tamás Varga,

Main Supporters of HCLU

Open Society Institute
Trust for Civil Society in Central & Eastern Europe
Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation
European Committee
Council of Hungarian Internet Providers
Tiara Ltd.
Concorde Securities Ltd.
Hinterland Engineering Office

Focus of HCLU's activities

patient rights:

  • right to health care
  • right to freedom of choice
  • informed consent
  • right to refuse treatment
  • access to medical records
  • substituted decision making
  • advance directive
  • right to complaint
  • right to participate in decision making related to health care

right to self-determination:

  • abortion
  • euthanasia

right to informational privacy:

  • protection of medical data
  • disclosure of medical data
  • protection of personal data in the media
  • access to public information

right to freedom of expression:

  • protection of basic information rights on the Internet

right to political representation:

  • NGO participation in the legislation

Drug policy

AIDS policy

We are governed by the principle that the citizens have a right to control the use of their personal data and that they should have an access to documents of public interest.

We help patients to exercise freely their legal rights with regard to medical treatment: the right to informed consent, the right to refuse treatment, the right to have access to their medical files, and the right to confidentiality in the patients' relationship with their physicians.

We reject the policy of subjecting drug dependent people and occasional drug users to criminal sanctions. We believe that increasing police rigor is not the right way to addressing the drug issue. Instead, support is needed for propagating information; and for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

We monitor cases where the rights of individuals held in closed institutions are restricted (those detained by police, the arrested, the imprisoned, and the inmates of psychiatric institutions) as well as the powers of the authorities to restrict the liberty of citizens, and the manner in which these powers are used in daily practice.

Ongoing projects of HCLU

legal advocacy:

  • legal advocacy by propagating international norms
  • publication of the statement series
  • participation in the preparation of legislation and contribution to related parliamentary debates
  • motions (to the Constitutional Court and the parliamentary ombudsman, etc.)
  • public debates, workshops

legal aid service:

  • telephone hotline 8 hour a day
  • online counseling
  • legal aid service
  • impact litigation

public education project

  • informational brieflets serie
  • public appearances: media, public debates
  • networking with organizations abroad
  • edition of policy papers on liberal legal policy

The HCLU consistently monitors the formulation of new pieces of legislation that fall within its competence, right from the initial conception of a draft law, down to its enactment. Before working out a statement, we seek counsel at eminent experts of the topic concerned: jurists, lawyers and physicians. We time the production of each of our statement to the day when parliamentary discussion of the topic concerned opens, and they are sent especially to politicians, journalists and the experts concerned. In the annex attached to our statements, we acquaint the Members of Parliament who are most directly involved in the discussion of the bill concerned with our commentaries on, and recommended alternative wording of, several articles of the bill.

HCLU is publishing a Policy Paper Series. Each issue sums up the liberal position on a legal policy issue involving a fundamental right; it surveys the Hungarian scene; and outlines the main policy aim of the HCLU in the field. The Policy Papers are issued in Hungarian and English.

We systematically observe the activities of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the WHO, the UN and the World Medical Association. We collect the recommendations and norms that such organizations issue concerning the patient/provider relationship and medical interventions. We make these documents accessible in Hungarian. (For example, we have arranged the translation of, and published in Hungarian, the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe and the Amsterdam Declaration of the WHO.) It is our aim to achieve that the Hungarian legal system should be adjusted to the most recent international legal norms, which means that laws and other legal instruments need adjustment. It is our policy to recommend to the competent authorities that Hungary should join the relevant international conventions.

For our drug policy-related activities, please visit www.drogriporter.hu .


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