The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has called on the Hungarian authorities to implement the Szabó and Vissy group of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights. In a its Interim Resolution (*) published today, the Committee “exhorted” the authorities to adopt-without further delay-the measures required to bring domestic legislation on secret surveillance for national security purposes fully and effectively in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It further emphasised the legal obligation of every State to abide by final judgments of the European Court in any case to which they are a party, fully, effectively, and promptly and thus called on the authorities to address the “entirety of the shortcomings” identified by the Court, to establish a timeline for the legislative process, to present a draft legislative proposal and to keep the Committee informed about all relevant developments in the legislative process.
The Committee recalled that the Court had found violations of the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life and for their correspondence on account of the Hungarian legislation on secret surveillance measures. This was namely within the framework of intelligence gathering for national security, which did not provide for “safeguards sufficiently precise, effective and comprehensive on the ordering, execution and potential redressing of such measures”.
It reiterated that secret surveillance should be regarded as a “highly intrusive act” that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society.
Hungary 🇭🇺 must bring domestic legislation on secret surveillance for national security purposes fully and effectively in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Press release: https://t.co/ZA6jkN649f#ECHR #HumanRights pic.twitter.com/umN5erp4MS
— Council of Europe (@coe) March 10, 2023
The Committee also noted with interest information received from the authorities in October 2022 that the required legislative process was under preparation, but it expressed “deepest concern” that – almost seven years after the Court’s judgment in the Szabó and Vissy case became final, and despite the authorities having confirmed the need for a legislative reform already in 2017 and notwithstanding the Committee’s repeated calls in this respect – the authorities had provided no written information.
In encouraging the authorities to make full use of the expertise available from the Council of Europe and to co-operate closely with the organisation to ensure that the legislative reform is fully Convention-compliant, the Committee invited the authorities to submit an updated action plan, including information on all the above issues, by 30 September 2023 at the latest, and decided to resume consideration of this case, in the light of the information received, at its meeting in June 2024 at the latest.
The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on Friday expressed concern about Hungary’s lack of progress in the implementation of a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in the case of former supreme court president András Baka. The Strasbourg-based body comprising 46 members adopted an interim resolution calling on Hungary’s authorities to submit an “updated action plan” by September 30 to dispel concerns about the freedom of expression and independence of Hungarian judges.
The committee also urged the Hungarian authorities “to introduce the required measures to ensure that a decision to remove the President of the Kuria [Supreme Court] is subjected to effective oversight by an independent judicial body”. It called on the authorities to “proceed with the evaluation of the domestic legislation on the status of judges and the administration of courts, including an analysis of the impact of all legislative and other measures adopted and foreseen on judges’ freedom of expression”. The Hungarian authorities, it added, are also encouraged to present the findings of their evaluation to enable the committee to assess whether its concerns regarding the “chilling effect on the freedom of expression of judges caused by the violations in these cases have been dispelled”.
The committee said it will review the case again in December. According to the 2016 ECtHR ruling, the Hungarian authorities curbed Baka’s right to free expression. The court said at the time that Baka’s human rights had also been violated through the premature removal from his position when the new Hungarian constitution terminated the former supreme court and established the Kúria, its successor. The committee said in July 2021 that the Hungarian government had failed to dispel concerns about the independence and freedom of expression of judges and asked for further information.
Source: Press release/Council of Europe
Many thanks for covering our news. But just to let you know… the Council of Europe is not the EU. The names are confusing however, and we understand why such mistakes happen, but could you please replace “EU” in the title with “Council of Europe” ? Köszönöm
The Council of Europe is distinct from the European Union. We joined in 1990.
Quotable quote (our Politicians sometimes need reminding):
“Whereas the member states of the European Union transfer part of their national legislative and executive powers to the European Commission and the European Parliament, Council of Europe member states maintain their sovereignty but commit themselves through conventions/treaties (international law) and co-operate on the basis of common values and common political decisions.”
Dear Panos Kakaviatos, thank you for your remark and your understanding, we amended the title.
Hungary should just ignore the Counsel of Europe. Those who pay the bills call the piper. It is time for foreign establishments to stay out of Hungary’s internal affairs. Socialists or their ideas are not welcome in Hungary.
Err….The members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states. Some would argue that it’s the very essence of the EU.
It has long been known that Orbán has used Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-arms company NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones (and other devices). He has used it for many years and has even used it to ‘test’ the loyalty of his fellow ‘acolytes’. Hungary insists that they have a portal into every telecoms company and can monitor any phone number they choose without detection. (In the UK, for example, an injunction from a magistrate must be obtained before it can acquire such information – even for interception of postal mail). This breaches democratic principles – and is what the EU committee of members is very delicately beating about the bush about!
Never assume that your calls are not being listened to whenever you use a mobile in Hungary!
One would have to be close to being a fool (or a “שמאָק,”/schmuck) if we did not think that this Orbán Government is spying on us – even worse than the komcsiks did back in my grandfather’s days.