Europe commission criticizes Hungary constitution amendments

[JURIST] The Venice Commission [official website], a European rights commission, published a report [text, PDF] on Friday criticizing Hungary's recent amendments to its constitution. While the commission praised Hungary's efforts to strengthen it's rule of law, the report cited several concerns with the new constitution. The report criticized provisions of the constitution requiring a two-thirds super majority to pass many laws where a simple majority was the traditional standard, suggesting the increased standard will act as an impediment to the legislative process. The report also criticized the drafting process of the document, saying it was plagued by "lack of transparency, shortcomings in the dialogue between the majority and the opposition, ... insufficient opportunities for an adequate public debate, and a very tight [time frame]." The Commission also expressed concern that the new constitution does not provide enough strong and specific protection for fundamental rights. The Venice Commission's report is not legally binding, but the commission works closely with the European Union.

Hungary has been heavily criticized [JURIST op-ed] for the recent changes to its constitution. In May Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] published a report [JURIST report] stating that the new constitution undermined basic human rights. Other constitutional changes that have been subject to criticism include 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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