Leading Hungarian NGOs, Transparency International Hungary and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union besides expressing their criticism about the new Hungarian Constitution and the Constitution-writing process, wish to express their deep concern regarding the recent initiatives of the parliamentary majority to radically encroach upon the independence of the judiciary system.
In their current, third analysis on the legislative work of the Hungarian Parliament, the Eötvös Károly Policy Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) examine whether the constitution-making process in Hungary meets the requirements deriving from the principle of the rule of law and compares the draft “Fundamental Law” (i.e. the draft of the new Constitution) submitted to the Parliament on 14 March 2011 with the present constitutional system.
Three Hungarian NGOs, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Eotvos Karoly Institute and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee sent a public letter to the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe and the leaders of European Parliament groups to draw their attention to the fallacious translation of the draft Constitution. Moreover, we informed them about our analysis of the Constitution framing process and some dangerous points of the draft.
The adoption of the new Hungarian Constitution will be, in all likelihood, the most influential domestic legislative act in the field of public law in the first half of 2011. The constitution writing process would be deemed a success if it would result in a substantial fundamental law providing a solid basis for the political community. However, when one takes into consideration the manner in which the new Constitution is being framed, it becomes increasingly difficult to conclude that it will be a success. The minimum requirement for creating a stable Constitution is that the fundamental law is adopted in a process which entails the possibility of the law being accepted by the overwhelming majority of society.
The current, highly unusual way of designing the Constitution makes one doubt whether this document will be worthy of being called the Constitution of Hungary. You can download our critical assessment (from here pdf) regarding the process of framing the new Constitution of Hungary.
The HCLU wrote a letter to Neelie Kroes to express our grave concern about the amendment proposed to the Hungarian Press and Media Act and the Media Services and Mass Media Act by the Hungarian government which it has been said is supported by Commissioner Kroes.
The HCLU recaps the concerns about the Act CIV of 2010 on Freedom of the Press and on the Basic Rules Relating to Media Content
The Hungarian Parliament approved the draft bill on the so-called media-constitution, with the official title: Act CIV of 2010 on Freedom of the Press and on the Basic Rules Relating to Media Content, which was passed in November 2010 and entered into force on 1st January 2011.
The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee focus on the elements of the system of checks and balances which were eliminated or significantly weakened by the decisions of the Government. Unconstitutional legislative changes, adopted since September, are also addressed.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transparency International Hungary, K-Monitor, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Eötvös Károly Institute turned to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe to obtain its position regarding the amendment of the Constitution which would rectrict the Constitutional Court’s power.
HCLU continues to maintain its position that the Bill regarding the fundamental rules of press freedom and media content is conceptually misguided, and therefore we ask for its removal from the Competent.
You may read our position here (in Hungarian).
The new media-press regulation plan is unfounded, and fails to meet established European freedom of press standards. Moreover, the so-called “media package” sponsored by two right-wing MPs from the governing party (Antal Rogán, András Cser-Palkovics), contains bills with several unconstitutional clauses. The bills would bring about significant changes to the functioning of printed press, television, radio and part of the internet as well. The HCLU disapproves of the process by which the new parliamentary majority has gone about building a completely new regulation plan without any previous consultation, open debate with stakeholders, experts or journalists. This is foolhardy at best, since the bills represent an attempt at a far-reaching overhaul in media regulation.