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Hungary laws undermining human rights: HRW

Hungarian laws introduced by the ruling Fidesz [party website, in Hungarian] party in 2010 are undermining human rights, according to a report [text, PDF] published Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. According to HRW, the new constitution and laws are negatively affecting human rights and the rule of law. The 29-page report states that many of the major changes "weaken legal checks on its authority, interfere with media freedom, and otherwise undermine human rights protection in the country." HRW noted the Hungarian government's continuing failure to comply with EU recommendations, suggesting concrete EU action, such as suspending Hungary's voting rights. Of particular concern were legal changes that have curbed the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice, impacted media freedom, stripped religious groups of their status as churches and discriminated against LGTB people and women.

Hungary has been criticized recently [JURIST op-ed] for changes to its constitution. Just last month an EU Commissioner spoke out against Hungary's failure to reinstate judges and prosecutors who had been forced into early retirement. More changes to the Hungarian constitution have included restrictions on the homeless [JURIST report], increased control of the media and a strict, narrow definition of family. The new laws were controversial even when they were passed [JURIST report], and have been subject to ongoing scrutiny. In February Hungary's Constitutional Court struck down [JURIST report] a law that outlines how churches are given official designation, finding that it was too political. In January the court struck down an electoral law [JURIST report] requiring voters to register to vote at least two weeks before elections in 2014.

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