May 16, 2013


To the Government of Hungary

Independence of the Judiciary

  • Implement the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) decision and reinstate judges who wish to return to work in their old positions or equivalent positions if filled and ensure that no further judges are retrospectively affected by mandatory early retirement;
  • Revise the process for electing the president of the National Judicial Office (NJO), and create an independent body tasked to elect the president;
  • Transfer to the National Judicial Council (NJC) the power currently exercised by the president of the NJO to transfer judges against their wishes;
  • Remove the power of the president of the NJO to assign cases arbitrarily and ensure that cases are assigned on clear and transparent criteria by the NJC or the president of the court;
  • Reinstate the power of the Constitutional Court to consult case law prior to January 1, 2012.

Freedom of Religion

  • Transfer responsibility for the registration of religious organizations from parliament to an independent body composed of experts appointed according to a multiparty nomination system or to independent tribunals;
  • Guarantee a right of appeal to an independent tribunal when registration is denied;
  • Lower the time requirement that a religious organization needs to have existed and the number of members it must have to be recognized as a church in Hungary, in accordance with European Court of Human rights case law and OSCE recommendations.

The Rights of Women and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People

  • Amend the constitution to ensure that women’s access to safe and legal abortion is not restricted and safeguard access to contraception;
  • Amend the definition of family in the constitution to include recognition of all family relationships irrespective of marital status, including families based on same-sex relationships.

Political Participation Including for People with Disabilities

  • Amend the constitution to ensure that no person is denied the right to vote on the basis of a disability.

The Rights of Homeless People

  • Amend the constitution to comply with the November 2012 ruling of the Constitutional Court and remove the constitutional provision granting local governments the right to criminalize homelessness.

Media Freedom

  • Restructure the Media Authority and Media Council to ensure independence from the government by establishing a multiparty nomination system;
  • Remove provisions imposing content regulation ensuring that media outlets and journalists can report freely without interference;
  • Decrease disproportionately high fines for violations against the media laws by journalists and the media and ensure that rules are clear and foreseeable to avoid arbitrariness by the Media Council when ruling on violations and fines;
  • Restructure the radio and broadcast licensing regime overseen by the Media Council to ensure transparency and clarity during tender processes by setting out clear criteria and transparent assessment of criteria, and make clear that the Media Council has a legal duty to comply with legal rulings regarding tenders.

To the European Union and the Council of Europe

  • Maintain pressure on Hungary to bring the current constitution, legislation, and practice into compliance with Hungary’s obligations under international treaties, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Treaty; they should set clear timeframes and deadlines for compliance and be prepared to impose concrete policy consequences should Hungarian authorities fail to undertake the necessary legal reforms, including, in the case of the EU, to suspend Hungary’s voting rights under article 7 of the EU Treaty.