Venice Commission Reexamines the Hungarian Fundamental Law

The delegation of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, has visited Hungary with the mandate to reexamine and reevaluate the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary and its potential consequences.

After the adoption of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has requested an opinion on its compatibility with Council of Europe standards. In their letter, addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union argued that the Fourth Amendment should be analyzed by the Venice Commission. With the aim of preparing the opinion a delegation of the Venice Commission visited Budapest on 11-12 April 2013. The delegation held meetings with Hungarian authorities, political parties and representatives of the abovementioned NGOs.

The HCLU, the HHC and the EKINT have detailed their analysis on the Fourth Amendment and reaffirmed their evaluation of it. The delegation was particularly interested in the changing powers of the Constitutional Court, in the reinstated power of the President of the National Judicial Office to transfer cases, in the current legal position of churches and in the new constitutional framework of political campaigns. The NGOs have also provided an analysis on the further limitations on freedom of expression.

The opinion of the Venice Commission is expected to be adopted and published in its 95th Plenary Session on 14-15 June 2013.

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