The Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International Hungary organised an international conference titled "The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Hungary and in Europe – trends, concerns, ways ahead" on 25 January 2019. The conference was organised to discuss fundamental changes in the Hungarian judiciary regarding the setting up of new administrative courts.
On Monday, the Hungarian Parliament finalised the laws on the country’s new administrative courts. In its current form, even after amendments, the laws do not comply with international standards and do not follow the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
Contrary to Government claims, the proposed amendment to the laws on administrative courts will not address all concerns. Pro-government MPs submitted a Bill on 12 March 2019 to amend the laws on administrative courts in light of the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
On Tuesday, Fidesz MPs proposed changes to the laws on administrative courts. These courts, starting from next year, will decide on important cases where the citizen is against the state. The new courts were heavily criticised earlier by many, including Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović.
The Venice Commission will be reviewing the Hungarian Government's new Law on administrative courts 15-16th March and is expected to publish its opinion in the following days. The government is also preparing for this, by planning to modify the legislation on administrative courts.
Hungary’s new administrative courts from 2020 will be under full ministerial influence. While the Ministerial model of court administration is not in itself wrong, and it works well in democracies around the World, the Hungarian system will allow the Minister to unduly influence courts.
Blurring the Boundaries: New Laws on Administrative Courts Undermine Judicial Independence If you are interested in our detailed analysis of the proposed draft Bill, click HERE. Judicial independence is now in jeopardy in Hungary.
The Hungarian Government proposes to establish a new administrative court system. There are no professional reasons behind setting up a new administrative court system and the government has also failed to provide any professional arguments. The decisions on the new court system are made behind closed doors which violates the public’s right to know. Stakes are high.
A new draft legislative package that limits judicial independence and restricts the freedom of judges to interpret the law is a serious threat to the rule of law in Hungary and runs counter to values Hungary signed up to when it joined the European Union.