Report on the Fundamental rights in Hungary – 4th Working Document

Report on the Fundamental rights in Hungary – 4th Working Document

2013. 03. 07.

"If you allow me, now I will be a bit more detailed than I have had occasion last time because I was chairing the meeting and I couldn't intervene in such a way I would have done to the discussion on these issues. So, I'm happy that now I can react on several things.

What is clear now that for more than one year our committee has been following seriously what's going on in Hungary, the situation of rule of law and democracy there. During this year the Commission analysed our laws, the Council of Europe Venice Commission expressed its views regarding our new Constitution and some of the Cardinal laws. We had delegations from our LIBE committee, there are delegations to Hungary from the Council of Europe.

Our media legislation was checked. There has been always shown willingness from the side of the Government to modify and to reconsider where it is necessary and these reconsiderations were introduced in form of amendments.

So, again and again there was a serious worry and concern about what is going on, about the rule of law in Hungary in general, without having one concrete single case of fundamental rights infringement or freedom of expression infringement where you could say that the rule of law did not function, where the courts did not work properly or the Constitutional Court did not act.

On the contrary, the court rulings prove – and look at the case of Klubrádió which was mentioned during the last debate -, that the courts are ruling independently. This is also the case if you look at the rulings of the Constitutional Court. They can't be regarded as pro-government or non-independent rulings.  I don't understand why it is always questioned the rule of law if it is evidence – evidence that is showed today and is incorporated in all these working documents – that actually each institution is doing its work properly in Hungary.

I think it is crystal clear that you don't have to worry about the rule of law in Hungary.

More and more Hungarians feel it hypocritical from our Comittee, from the international institutions that, while we do not address really serious breaches of human rights or fundamental rights in other Members States, we are constantly – as a Hungarian saying says – shouting wolfat Hungary. More and more people say that this is double standard and I think it is completely contra productive.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court which I think is in many-many items misinterpreted and because of this, the fourth amendment to the Constitution is totally misunderstood, I would like to clarify a bit.

What did happen? The Parliament adopted the new Constitution and later on several transitional provisions about which the Parliament explicitly declared that they have the same power as the Constitution.

These transitional provisions have been in force for the past year,  and we have been debating these provisions here during our year of exchange of views on the rule of law in Hungary. They were also examined during general examination by the Council of Europe.

These transitional provisions were referred to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court in its ruling from December 2012 – which Constitutional Court could check the provisions formally -, adopted that – and I am underlining it was a formal check that didn't say anything about the content of these provisions neither about the merits – said that those provisions can't be seen as transitional ones so the legislator has to decide clearly upon them and make an evident and clear legal situation, decide which of these provisions should be incorporated in the Fundamental law – the Constitution – and which should be laid down on level of cardinal or ordinary acts. This is the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

The Parliament now is doing exactly what the Constitutional Court asked it to do. It is deciding to put, incorporate all the transitional provisions which are already in force for the past year, into the Constitution .

So, we cannot say that there is any overruling of the decision of the Constitutional Court. No way! I think this is a big misunderstanding that has to be clarified in time.

Regarding this new amendment of the Constitution: there is misleading information and I am sure you will find a clarification on – on the Constitutional Court powers –  because they are not in any way restricted.

This is the same thing with the assignment of cases – more legal guarantee is introduced now because this issue was questioned. And it's also an extra legal guarantee to be introduced on the recognition of state subsidised churches.

So, what I feel here is that much more clarification is needed and maybe your viewpoint should be more open-minded and not somehow effected already without looking into what is actually happening in Hungary and what is the reason why it is happening.

Just a last sentence: if we go on and go into such details – each law and amendment – I will have to share the view of more and more people in Hungary who are saying: If this Committee or these institutions will not do the same thing in case of each Member State which have similar laws, similar acts or similar provisions in their Constitutions or they won't be worried to the same extent of the situation of media, independence of judiciary, the rule of law in cases where other political groups have 2/3 majority – maybe socialists and liberals -it will clearly prove that this is a political game with double standards and the credibility of this institution is questioned.

This is why I would like to ask you cooperate and try to find an adequate understanding of what is going on in Hungary and maybe more good will in approaching this whole process."