The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is a non-profit human rights watchdog NGO established in Budapest, Hungary in 1994.
The HCLU is a Hungarian human rights watchdog working independently of political parties, the state or any if its institutions. The HCLU’s aim is to promote the case of fundamental rights and principles laid down by the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary and by international conventions. Generally, it has the goal of building and strengthening civil society and the rule of law in Hungary and in the CEE region. Since the HCLU is an independent non-profit organization, its financial resources are mostly provided by foundations and by an increasing number of private persons.
The HCLU strives to educate citizens about their basic human rights and freedoms, and takes stand against undue interference and misuse of power by those in positions of authority.
Members and supporters of the HCLU
The highest body of the HCLU is the General Assembly. The General Assembly selects the members of the Executive Committee. The members of the Executive Committee administer the daily work of HCLU, elect the President of the Union, and may recommend to the General Assembly to adopt new members. The members of the Executive Committee and the permanent staff of the HCLU are responsible for managaing the daily tasks. In addition, they provide the publicly announced services and formulate the position of the HCLU on key issues of legal policy.
A Board of Advisors assists the work of the Executive Committee. The Board consists of renowned jurists, lawyers and physicians with whom we have developed daily working relations. It is the duty of the Board of Supervisors - whose members are elected by the General Assembly - to supervise the activities and financial operation of the Executive Committee.
Focus areas of the HCLU's activities
- Patients' rights: right to health care, right to freedom of choice, informed consent, right to refuse treatment, access to medical records, substituted decision making, advance directive, right to complaint, right to participate in decision-making related to health care
- Right to self-determination: abortion, euthanasia
- Right to informational privacy: protection of medical data, disclosure of medical data, protection of personal data in the media, access to public information
- Right to freedom of expression: protection of basic information rights on the Internet
- Right to political representation: NGO participation in the legislation
- Drug policy: For our drug policy-related activities, please visit www.drogriporter.hu
- AIDS policy
We are governed by the principle that the citizens have a right to control the use of their personal data and that they should have an access to documents of public interest.
We help patients to freely exercise their legal rights with regard to medical treatment: the right to informed consent, the right to refuse treatment, the right to have access to their medical files, and the right to confidentiality in the patients' relationship with their physicians.
We reject the policy of subjecting drug dependent people and occasional drug users to criminal sanctions. We believe that increasing police rigor is not the right way to address the issue. Instead, support is needed for propagating information; and for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
We monitor cases where the rights of individuals held in closed institutions (those detained by police, the arrested, the imprisoned, and the inmates of psychiatric institutions) are restricted as well as the powers of the authorities to restrict the liberty of citizens, and the manner in which these powers are used in daily practice.
Ongoing projects of the HCLU
- Legal advocacy: legal advocacy by propagating international norms, publication of the statement series, participation in the preparation of legislation and contribution to related parliamentary debates, motions (to the Constitutional Court and to the parliamentary ombudsman, etc.), public debates, workshops
- Legal aid service: telephone hotline 8 hours a day, online counseling, legal aid service, impact litigation
- Public education project: informational brieflets series, public appearances: media, public debates, networking with organizations abroad, edition of policy papers on liberal legal policy
The HCLU consistently monitors the formulation of new pieces of legislation that fall within its competence, right from the initial conception of a draft law, down to its enactment. Before working out a statement, we seek counsel from eminent experts of the topic concerned: jurists, lawyers and physicians.
We schedule the production of each of our statements to the day when parliamentary discussion of the given topic opens, and they are sent in particular to politicians, journalists and the experts concerned. In the annex attached to our statements, we acquaint the Members of Parliament most directly involved in the discussion of the bill concerned with our commentaries on, and recommended alternative wording of, several articles of the bill.
The HCLU also publishes a Policy Paper Series. Each issue sums up the liberal position on a legal policy issue involving a fundamental right; it surveys the Hungarian scene; and outlines the main policy aim of the HCLU in the field. The Policy Papers are issued in both Hungarian and English.
We systematically observe the activities of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the WHO, the UN and the World Medical Association. We collect the recommendations and norms that such organizations issue in relation to the patient/provider relationship and medical interventions. We make these documents accessible in Hungarian. (For example, we have arranged the translation of, and published in Hungarian, the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe and the Amsterdam Declaration of the WHO.) It is our aim to achieve that the Hungarian legal system be adjusted to the most recent international legal norms, which means that laws and other legal instruments need adjustment. It is our policy to recommend to the competent authorities that Hungary should join the relevant international conventions.
- Statutes of Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
- The HCLU Team
- Financial Reports
- Independent Auditor's Reports