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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.
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.
The Constitutional Court (CC) held today that the Criminal Code amendment by the “Stop Soros” package is constitutional. Although the CC concluded that it would be unacceptable if those who selflessly assist asylum seekers were penalised, it is still not sufficiently clear what is allowed and what is forbidden by the law.
At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Stefánia Kapronczay managing director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Sándor Léderer, director of K-Monitor met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Special attention was paid to the situation of civil society, as well as to concerns regarding the rule of law in Hungary.
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.
On 12 September 2018, the European Parliament voted to trigger proceedings against Hungary under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union on account of the systemic threat to the core values of the EU. Five months later, the risk of a serious breach of core European values has increased as the Hungarian government and the ruling party further reduced the space for dissent and holding government accountable.
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.
Judicial independence is now in jeopardy in Hungary. A new package of legislative proposals that limits judicial independence 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. Since 2010, most organizational changes, including the establishment of new institutions, have served the aim of eliminating checks on political power.