The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union is a human rights NGO. Since our foundation in 1994, we have been working in order to everybody can get to know their fundamental human rights in Hungary and can enforce it against the undue interference by those in position of public power. The HCLU monitors legislation, pursues strategic litigation, provides free legal aid assistance in more than 2000 cases per year, provides trainings and launches awareness raising media campaigns in order to mobilize the public. The HCLU is working with a staff of 30 people and with an annual revenue of approximately 190 million HUF. We do not accept any state funding or any donation from political parties. Our revenues are from private individuals, companies and private foundations. Be the supporter of HCLU!

Our mission

The HCLU is working in order to everybody can get to know their fundamental human rights in Hungary and can enforce it against the undue interference by those in position of public power. 
Our main goal is that fundamental rights and principles prevail in Hungary. We focus on areas of law where unlawful acts are most common or systematic and victims are especially vulnerable. We are present at courts, ministries, national and international conferences, universities, in the capital and at the countryside. 
The HCLU pays special attention to political freedom rights, right to self-determination and to the protection of specific vulnerable groups. We strive that the state can restrict fundamental rights only with especially serious reason and with providing adequte guarantees based on the law. Our activities include:
- personal data protection;
- access to public data and assuring the transparent operation of the state;
- protection of freedom of assembly, expression and press;
- advocating for political participatoryy rights;
- protection of the rights of citizens in the health care system;
- protection of physical self-determination, like the right to die with dignity or the right to abortion;
- protection of those living with HIV/AIDS;
- protection of the rights of LMBT+ people;
- protection of the rights of Roma against the institutionalized discrimination;
- protection of the rights of people with disabilities;
- protection of the rights of drug users and aiming for a state drug policy which respects this. 

For the full staff of the HCLU click here!

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Members and supporters of the HCLU

The highest body of the HCLU is the General Assembly. The General Assembly elects a Governing Body with a minimum of 3, and a maximum of 5 members. The members of the Governing Body 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 Governing Body 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 Governing Body. 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 service twice a week on Tuesdays (from 2.30 - 5.00 pm) and Thursdays (from 10.00 - 12.00 am), 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.

Kapcsolódó hírek


On 18 January 2018, the Hungarian government launched the ‘Stop Soros’ package, a proposal of three laws that target civil society organisations.

The undersigned civil society organisations from Hungary wish to draw the attention of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the alarmingly shrinking civic space for civil society and the growing obstacles faced by human rights defenders in Hungary.

On Tuesday, 13 June, after two postponed votes, the Hungarian Parliament adopted the Law on the Transparency of Foreign Funded Organisations. The community of civil society organisations united in the Civilizáció campaign continue to believe that the law is unnecessary, stigmatising and harmful.

The Hungarian parliament is to adapt a law based on the Russian and Israeli model, which aims to accuse and stigmatise NGOs operating independently from the Hungarian government, alleging that they represent foreign interests. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) – as one of the targets of the proposed legalisation -, a legal aid organisation working on ensuring political rights and freedoms  - wishes to communicate the following to the public.

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.


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