In its Information Note, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee provides an overview of certain rule of law developments in Hungary between May and July 2020, covering concerns pertaining to the justice system and institutional issues related to checks and balances.
Amendments introduced as of 18 June by the so-called Transitional Act provide the Government excessive powers that can be applied with a reference to an epidemic, with significantly weakened constitutional safeguards. Other provisions for example on asylum, the powers of the military forces, and data protection also give rise to concerns, NGOs say.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on 14 May 2020 that Hungary’s practice of automatically placing the quasi-totality of asylum-seekers in closed land-border transit zones during the entire asylum procedure constitutes unlawful detention. As a reaction, the Hungarian government announced the introduction of a new asylum system.
A communication by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International shows that due to the legal and institutional structures created by the governing majority, the chilling on the freedom of expression of judges effect is encoded in the Hungarian court system, and Hungary has failed to adopt guarantees to avoid retaliation against judges voicing criticism in relation to the independence of the judiciary.
The HHC's new report shows how ruling party politicians have exerted undue influence on the judiciary in Hungary between 2010–2020, either by interfering in pending cases or undermining the credibility of judicial decisions, or by eroding public confidence in the judiciary as a whole.
The explanatory note provides details of the proposed new framework concerning the state of danger and the state of medical emergency; compares the scope of decrees the Government may issue during a future state of danger, a future state of medical emergency, and while the Authorization Act remains in force; and demonstrates how the decision to lift the current state of danger will remain at the discretion of the Government.
Rapid analysis of the Bill on Terminating the State of Danger (T/10747) & the Bill on Transitional Provisions related to the Termination of the State of Danger (T/10748) Shortly before midnight on 26 May, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén submitted to parliament the Bill on Terminating the State of Danger (T/10747) and the Bill on Transitional Provisions related to the Termination of the State of Danger (T/10748).
Eight Hungarian NGOs, participating in the stakeholder consultation launched by the European Commission for its first annual Rule of Law Report, trust that the EC will make concrete, enforceable recommendations to EU Member States, hence also for Hungary on how to advance rule of law in the EU. In 2020, the European Commission will issue its first Rule of Law Report, covering all EU Member States.
The Authorization Act allows the Government to introduce significant restrictions, practically without any time limit, without any debate in the Parliament, and without any guarantee for the swift and effective constitutional review.