EU should act on Hungary’s human rights

Brussels has done virtually nothing about Hungary’s problematic laws and practices concerning human rights since the European Commission in March 2014 created a “rule of law” measure to address serious abuses in EU member states, Human Rights Watch said in a report released recently.

The five-page Human Rights Watch report identifies a range of outstanding human rights concerns stemming from laws and practices enacted by the government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since its election in 2010. The Hungarian government has introduced a raft of problematic laws and policies while international calls to amend them have gone largely unheeded.

“Hungary is exhibit A for the need for stronger European Union action to protect rights inside its own borders,” said Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The EU needs to stand up for its own values and protect the rights of Hungary’s citizens, including by activating the commission’s rule of law mechanism and putting the country’s record on the agenda of the European Council.”

Hungary’s laws and practices that cause concern include limitations on members of certain religious groups.

Human Rights Watch identified a series of reforms needed to bring Hungary’s laws and practices in line with its international and regional obligations, including implementation of the European Court of Human Rights ruling on equality for religious organisations and ensuring that eligibility for state subsidies by religious groups is determined by an independent body and subject to appeal in courts;