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.
Constituents who have residency in Hungary, but work or study abroad for a prolonged period of time, and consequently are not going to be in Hungary on the day of the parliamentary elections, may only vote at the foreign embassies. In certain cases, this might necessitate a journey of several hundred kilometres, and entail considerable costs, or even prevent them from voting. At the same time, constituents who are going to stay abroad on the day of the election as well, but who do not have residency in Hungary, can vote by post, which is cheap, simple and convenient. HCLU, representing a constituent working abroad, has contested these discriminative rules at the Constitutional Court.
In response to increasing restrictions on personal freedoms and civil protest, independent national human rights organisations from ten countries today launched the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO). They also released “Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalisation of Protest Around the World,” a collection of nine case studies showing patterns of police crackdown and abuse against peaceful assembly, accompanied by concrete recommendations to expand free speech.
The Metropolitan Court of Budapest invalidated the decision of Budapest’s chief police officer that effectively banned an announced demonstration at the Prime Minister’s residence. The decision also found that closing the area, in order to prevent the demonstration, violated the law. The HCLU welcomes the decision by the court which stated that “limiting a peaceful demonstration because it is held in the presence of a high level official but otherwise serves as an expression of a political opinion is unnecessary in a democratic society.”