Three Hungarian NGOs, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Eötvös Károly Institute and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union addressed the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Commission Vice-President, Commissioner in Charge of Justice, Human Rights and Citizenship in order to raise their attention to the planned Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, threatening the rule of law. The NGOs asked the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to request the Venice Commission to perform an analysis of the proposed amendments.
Last year the Government introduced fundamental changes to the judicial system. Although 30 separate provisions of the relevant regulation were amended in response to the serious concerns raised by the Venice Commission (VC), the organization of the judicial system remains centralized and still endangers the independence of the judiciary and the fairness of court proceedings – according to the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.
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 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.