According to the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Constitutional Court’s decision to hear the President of the National Judicial Office behind closed doors undermines the transparency of decision-making by a public office, the right to freedom of information and the principle of fair trial.
The delegation of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, has visited Hungary with the mandate to reexamine and reevaluate the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary and its potential consequences.
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.