For over two decades, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union has been active in protecting the rights of citizens against undue interference by those in position of public power. The HCLU monitors legislation, pursues strategic litigation, conducts public education and launches awareness raising media campaigns. It stands by citizens unable to defend themselves, assisting them in protecting their basic rights. Our lawyers provide free legal aid service in about 2000 cases per year and this number is increasing. The HCLU, with headquarters in Budapest, litigates across the country and all the way to the Hungarian Supreme Court. The HCLU is present in the courtrooms, in the ministries, at international events, at universities and in small villages. Its many partners include domestic and foreign individuals and institutions, as well as international organizations. It works in cooperation with volunteers to ensure that fundamental rights and principles may indeed prevail in Hungary. The HCLU’s activities cover two major areas: the protection of civil liberties and the safeguarding equality for the most disadvantaged groups.

Our mission

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.

For the full staff of the HCLU click here!

Members and supporters of the HCLU

The highest body of the HCLU is the General Assembly. The General Assembly elects a Management Board with a minimum of 3, and a maximum of 5 members. The members of the Management Board administer the daily work of HCLU, elects from its members the Executive Director of the NGO, and may recommend to the General Assembly to adopt new members. The members of the Management Board 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.

It is the duty of the Supervisory Board - whose members are elected by the General Assembly - to supervise the activities and financial operation of the Management Board. The General Assembly elects a Supervisory Board with 3 members. The Supervisory Board controls in advance the functioning and the financing of the NGO.

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
  • 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.

Segítségre van szükségem!

Támogatni akarom!

Kapcsolódó hírek


The past few weeks have been full of the word “pseudo-NGO”. The government and leaders of the governing party have declared organisations critical of them “pseudo-NGOs”.  According to more moderate views, they should be much more transparent than they are now, while according to more radical views, they should be completely eliminated. Those who do not agree with these politicians have retorted that it is in fact the foundations, associations and other professional platforms close to the government who are the real pseudo-NGOs. It is well-settled what it means to be an NGO. The definition of a pseudo-NGO, on the other hand, has not been fully explained. This expression is used in various contexts in the current debate. Let’s look at the typology of pseudo-NGOs!

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee will discuss the fundamental rights situation in Hungary with Justice Minister László Trócsányi and civil society representatives on Monday afternoon. Read the full speech of HCLU's Executive director, Stefánia Kapronczay.

What does the government want? Fidesz's vice-president, Szilárd Németh, along with MPs of the governing parties, launched a verbal attack against several civil organizations that receive part of their funding from foreign donors.

Civil society leaders fear similar bureaucratic obstacles in the future could hamstring groups that play a leading role in highlighting official corruption, defending refugees and migrants, and promoting human rights.

Even though 2015 saw the rule of law further undermined in Hungary, HCLU managed to adapt to the changed conditions and achieved some genuine results. In recent years we not only fought against isolated human rights violations, but also against the systematic and high-level dismantling of human rights. Our Annual Report summarizes our professional challenges, successes and most important achievements in 2015.

You can download our annual report here.

The undersigned organizations—members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), who are deeply committed to supporting civil society space—condemn the shutdown of one of INCLO’s member organizations, the Agora Human Rights Association in Russia.

For legal aid by phone call +36 1 279-22-35 on Tuesdays between 2.30PM and 5PM, and on Thursdays between 10AM and 12PM (CET).

Hungary's new anti-migrant laws are part of a wider ambition by Prime Minister Orban to be seen as the savior of Europe, at the expense of human rights and constitutional principles.

The increasing refugee crisis of the past months is not only a Hungarian problem. However, handling the refugee situation in Hungary is a Hungarian task.

European identity is much more than race or ethnicity, but you wouldn’t know it from the actions of many EU members, typified by Hungary’s hate-filled campaign against migrants.

Hungarian NGOs and international organisations voiced concerns about the Hungarian government’s fierce crackdown on NGOs at the international human rights event of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) held a hearing on the situation of Hungary during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  Representatives of civil society, press and experts have been invited to speak about developments in Hungary, notably the crackdown on NGOs supporting democracy and civil rights.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union has approached the authors of the UN report on the freedom of association and the situation of legal defense agencies regarding the Hungarian government's control of civil society, which breaches both national and international law. In its letter, HCLU asks the addressees to use all available means in order to stop the violation of Hungarian civil organizations' rights.

We consider the attempts by the Government Control Office (GCO) to audit our programs financed by the Norway NGO Fund a political attack. We will reveal everything to the public, but not to the government, which has no jurisdiction over this sphere of activities. As advocates of freedom rights we often urge citizens to actively protect their rights. Now the time has come for us to protect ourselves against this politically motivated unlawful attack. We consider the accusations that we use the Norwegian money to support LMP (Politics Can Be Different) and other leftwing liberal parties absurd. We always criticise those in power for abusing their power and violating rights; that’s what we always did, and that’s what we still do.

HCLU considers attempts by the Hungarian Government Control Office (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal, KEHI) to control programs supported from the Norwegian NGO Fund to be part of a political attack.

Dr. Stefánia Kapronczay, the executive director of HCLU, was appointed co-president of INCLO (International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations). INCLO is working to support the domestic activities of human rights organizations on an international level, and make their voices heard.


Subscribe to RSS - About us