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 Act CCVI of 2011 on the right to freedom of conscience and religion and the legal status of churches, denominations and religious communities of Hungary has established one of the greatest curtailment of privileges since the transition in 1989. In defence of 9 churches, deprived of their legal status, the HCLU, seeking remedies, has turned to the CC and to the ECtHR.
In March 2012 the Venice Commission issued an opinion regarding the new Hungarian cardinal laws on the court system and the judiciary, stating that “the reform as a whole threatens the independence of the judiciary”. The Hungarian Government has initiated an amendment of the two cardinal laws in question, apparently as a result of the Venice Commission’s opinion. However, the proposed amendments do not eliminate the conceptional problems of the new regulation.
On Friday 20 April 2012, the Hungarian Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Mr. Tibor Navracsics submitted to Parliament a draft Parliamentary Resolution to not execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) taken in the case of Fratanolo v Hungary. The judgment, handed down by the Strasbourg-based court in November 2011, is the second such decision establishing that Hungary had violated the right to freedom of expression protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by criminalizing the wearing of the red star in public. Under the minister’s proposal, the penal provision should remain in effect and Hungary should not pay the just satisfaction awarded by the ECtHR.
On 23 April the Tribunal of the Capiptal overruled and repealed the decision of the Budapest Police Chief, which had previously banned the Budapest Pride March. Similarly to last year, the court accepted the arguments of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union's lawyer and rejected the 13-page-long justification of the police. The court ruled that there is no valid legal reason to prohibit the Pride March on the announced route.
With the legal help of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Rainbow Mission Foundation challenges the banning order issued by the Budapest Chief of Police.
The British Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers will be holding a High Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights in Brighton, United Kingdom (18-20 April 2012). The Declaration to be adopted in Brighton will lay the ground for a number of reforms, including amendments to the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). These reforms could seriously undermine the authority and integrity of the Court and its ability to ensure the effective protection of human rights in Europe. In particular, the damaging proposals would introduce additional admissibility requirements in the Convention and codify the principles of subsidiarity and margin of appreciation in the treaty. To insert these principles in the text of the Convention, and to define their nature and content, risk undermining the interpretative role of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and other Hungarian NGOs met the rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, and submitted their concerns related to the legislative steps of the Hungarian Government taken in the last one and a half year, with special regard to the so-called cardinal laws.
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.
On January 25th, the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly requested that the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters review five further Acts, including the Act on the Hungarian Constitutional Court. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the HCLU and the Eötvös Károly Institute sent their opinion of the new Act on the Constitutional Court to the Venice Committee.
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.