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!
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.
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.
- Statutes of Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
- The HCLU Team
- Financial Reports
- Independent Auditor's Reports