Last week’s dismal decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court (CC), the National Electoral Commission and the Data Protection Authority (DPA) have proved former concerns of human rights NGOs correct: institutions, which ought to be independent and have the duty to guard constitutionalism have failed. Read the full analysis here.
Now that the election date has been set, we will start to feel the menacing deficiencies of the new election procedures. HCLU has started its election monitoring work, during which it is going to document if and how these procedures, which are going to be applied for the first time in 2014, harm our constitutional rights. In the coming months we are going to examine if the data, which draws an objective picture of the different election phases, supports our suspicion that the new regulations violate participation rights in practice.
In response to our call, the National Election Office (NVI) has initiated an important amendment to the electoral procedure, thereby restricting opportunities for electoral fraud. The government amended the relevant decree. HCLU welcomes the modification, as it results in the increased transparency of the elections and an increased level of protection for the right to vote. However, we hold that further modifications are necessary to prevent fraud.
Two actions were launched by the HCLU regarding the right to peaceful assembly in December, 2013. Both actions concern to the same problem: lockdown of a public area around the Prime Minister's residence. In the first case, the police dispersed an ongoing peaceful demonstration on the grounds of closing off the area, for which the organizer filed a claim against the police with the help of HCLU. In the other case, another demonstration planned by the same organizer at the same venue was banned by the court, which was then challenged before the Constitutional Court. Both decisions are ill-unfounded and misinterpret the constitutional limitations of the right to protest.
The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union criticize the abolishing of the upper age limit of 70 years in case of elected Constitutional Court judges, including current serving judges.
According to human rights watchdog the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the proposed bill to change the Criminal Code as it relates to protecting human dignity and preventing falsification of evidence is unconstitutional as it violates the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. By reacting to one particular case, this move from the legislative body would further deconstruct both its own prestige and that of the judicial branch.