HRW: EU failing to address  Hungary ‘rule of law’ concerns

HRW: EU failing to address Hungary ‘rule of law’ concerns

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday condemned [press release] the EU for refusing to take action to address Hungary’s alleged problematic laws and practices regarding human rights since the European Commission enacted a “rule of law” measure [text, PDF] in March 2014. This measure was created to address abuses of human rights in the EU member states and was purported to be a constitutionally binding principle. The HRW report [text] indicates that Hungary’s problematic practices include limitations on the powers of the Constitutional court; restraints on media freedom; and restrictions on the rights of women, people with disabilities, religious groups and homeless people. HRW Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher Lydia Gall stated:

Every EU member state has room for improvement when it comes to human rights. … But faced with a Hungarian government that appears determined to deliberately undermine human rights protection, it is vital for Brussels to act.

HRW called on the EU to aid in restoring Hungary’s laws to be consistent with international law.

In 2013 the Hungarian government enacted constitutional amendments [JURIST report] after receiving criticism over its 2012 amendments. The amendments contained new rules on the recognition of religious groups, as well as modifications to the bans on political advertisements on commercial television and radio stations. The changes allowed political campaign advertisements on commercial TV and radio, but broadcasters would not be allowed to charge for them. Political parties were also be given equal air time. The Hungarian Justice Minister stated that the amendments were proposed as the result of pressure due to the harsh criticism Hungary received. HRW and other human rights groups criticized [JURIST report] the changes as “largely cosmetic,” highlighting a lack of resolve over issues surrounding weakened human rights protections in the country.