According to human rights watchdog the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the proposed bill to change the Criminal Code as it relates to protecting human dignity and preventing falsification of evidence is unconstitutional as it violates the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. By reacting to one particular case, this move from the legislative body would further deconstruct both its own prestige and that of the judicial branch.
Constituents who have residency in Hungary, but work or study abroad for a prolonged period of time, and consequently are not going to be in Hungary on the day of the parliamentary elections, may only vote at the foreign embassies. In certain cases, this might necessitate a journey of several hundred kilometres, and entail considerable costs, or even prevent them from voting. At the same time, constituents who are going to stay abroad on the day of the election as well, but who do not have residency in Hungary, can vote by post, which is cheap, simple and convenient. HCLU, representing a constituent working abroad, has contested these discriminative rules at the Constitutional Court.
In response to increasing restrictions on personal freedoms and civil protest, independent national human rights organisations from ten countries today launched the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO). They also released “Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalisation of Protest Around the World,” a collection of nine case studies showing patterns of police crackdown and abuse against peaceful assembly, accompanied by concrete recommendations to expand free speech.
The Metropolitan Court of Budapest invalidated the decision of Budapest’s chief police officer that effectively banned an announced demonstration at the Prime Minister’s residence. The decision also found that closing the area, in order to prevent the demonstration, violated the law. The HCLU welcomes the decision by the court which stated that “limiting a peaceful demonstration because it is held in the presence of a high level official but otherwise serves as an expression of a political opinion is unnecessary in a democratic society.”
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Independent Journalism, the Hungarian Europe Society, the Mertek Media Monitor and the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media, as signatories of the opinion on ’The Report of the High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism: A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy’ are civil organizations with a long history of commitment to the freedoms of speech and press and extensive professional experience in this area.
The Hungarian government provided detailed comments on the so-called Tavares Report regarding the situation of fundamental rights in Hungary, which will soon be discussed by Members of the European Parliament. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) and the Standards (Mérték) Media Monitor responded to the government’s inaccurate and unfounded comments in an analysis submitted to the factions of the European Parliament.