Attempts to control the funding of NGOs. Attempts to label NGOs that criticize the government as serving the interest of other political parties. Origo.hu, largest online news portal publishes evidence on misuse of public funds by a prominent Fidesz politican. The politician, Janos Lazar places the editor-in-chief and Origo.hu under pressure. The editor-in-chief was displaced.
Five companies have said they will no longer place advertising in a Hungarian newspaper that published extreme anti-Roma statements.
Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe held a press conference on 29th January about - among other issues - the efforts of the Hungarian government on amending media-regulation and the agreement between the Council of Europe and the Hungarian government was welcome. Five Hungarian NGOs sent a letter in which the Secretary General and the Council of Europe are asked to monitor further changes in the system of the Hungarian media-regulation.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is joining with a coalition of Hungarian NGOs are calling on domestic companies and Hungarian divisions of multinationals to take a stand against hate speech in Hungary. The NGOS are asking, among others, Vodafone and T-Com, FEDEX, IKEA and Procter and Gamble to reconsider advertising in a Hungarian newspaper which published an article talking about Romani people in unacceptably racist and prejudiced language.
Justice László Ravasz was sentenced by the Service Court of Second Instance attached to the Curia on 29 March 2012 on the ground of committing a disciplinary offence. The court initiated his dismissal and the President of the Republic dismissed him on 6 June. The judge committed the offence with the public expression of his views on the administration of the judiciary. It is the HCLU’s opinion that the sentence of the service court means an unacceptable constraint on the freedom of expression. Hence, the HCLU stands for the dismissed judge and represents him before the European Court of Human Rights in seeking remedies.
The investigation into the misdemeanor crime against Hungarian rapper Dopeman was closed, after it was found that a misdemeanor crime against a national symbol, namely the Hungarian National Anthem, was not committed.
Lajos Gubcsi, former Director of Zrínyi Media Ltd. – a background institution of the Ministry of National Defense – initiated a defamation lawsuit against József Spirk, journalist of Index.hu, the leading online news provider in Hungary. The HCLU’s Legal Aid Service provided legal representation. The court ruled that facts written in the article were well-founded and as a result ruled in favor of the journalist. The ruling is final.
The Venice Commission issued an opinion on the new Constitution (the “Fundamental Law”) of Hungary in June 2011. Due to the lack of an official Hungarian translation and the misleading statements of government party representatives, the public may have a false impression of the content of the opinion. Therefore, the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Commitee and the HCLU have prepared a joint analysis on the reactions of the Government in light of the Venice Commission’s opinion.
On July 19th, after a lengthy legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ruled in favor of journalist Peter Uj, represented by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. The journalist criticized the state owned Tokaj Kereskedőház (Hungarian winery) and specifically characterized it’s wine as shit. Criminal charges (defamation and criminal libel) initiated by the Tokaj Kereskedőház were pressed against him.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and the ARTICLE 19 Global Campaign For Free Expression prepared together an Information Note on the Hungarian Media Laws that enterted into force in January 2011.