On 12 November 2019, the Hungarian Government submitted a Bill to the Parliament which, if adopted, will have a significant negative impact on judicial independence, however, in a much more covert and technical way than the earlier, withdrawn plan to put administrative courts under the Minister of Justice.
The Acting President of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court (Fővárosi Törvényszék) initiated disciplinary proceedings against Judge Csaba Vasvári for referring questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The motion, which argues that the content of the questions violates the “dignity of the judiciary”, is unprecedented in Hungary.
New briefing paper by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International Hungary on the constitutional crisis in the Hungarian judiciary. The paper outlines key developments since January 2018, both regarding the ordinary court system and the prospect of the new administrative courts. We also make recommendations to resolve the crisis.
This June the Parliament will elect the President of the new Supreme Administrative Court, who will have extremely wide powers over judges and cases concerning a range of issues from taxation to human rights. But legislation allows that someone with zero days of judicial experience may be elected without any professional screening.
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.