Time for EU to press Hungary to respect human rights

Time for EU to press Hungary to respect human rights
(Brussels, 16 January 2012) The European Commission must urgently press the Hungarian Government to ensure that a new constitution and national laws comply with European Union human rights standards, Amnesty International has said in a letter to EU Commissioners. The organisation has also criticised restrictive media laws which it believes pose a threat to freedom of expression in Hungary.
“The Commission must finally get serious with the Hungarian Government and insist on respect for the fundamental rights which are the basis for EU membership,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. ”It’s time the EU delivered a human rights assessment of the Hungarian constitution and took the necessary steps under Article 7 of the Treaty of the EU.”
In 2011, the Commission began reviewing Hungary’s draft constitution to ensure it was consistent with EU law and treaties, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights.  In December 2011, Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights & Citizenship, raised concerns about parts of the constitution which dealt with the retirement age of judges and the independence of the data protection authority. 
Amnesty International has criticised the College of Commissioners, which comprises all 27 Commissioners, for failing to reconcile its statements with the need to tackle the serious human rights implications of both the media laws and the constitution.
NGOs have also raised concerns about a law on Hungary’s Constitutional Court, which appears to require citizens to have legal representation and carries the threat of a heavy fine at the Court’s discretion. 
There are also clear signs that freedom of expression in Hungary has been threatened by new media laws adopted in 2010 and modified by Parliament in March 2011. 
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Peter Clarke 
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International
Tel:+32 (0) 2 548 2773

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