Budapest, February 19 (MTI) – The European Union has done “virtually nothing” concerning issues around human rights laws and practices in Hungary, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released on Wednesday, and called on the EU to take appropriate action.
The report raises concern about the Hungary situation, stemming from “a raft of problematic laws and policies” initiated by the government, adding that “international calls to amend them have gone largely unheeded”.
HRW’s Balkans and Central Europe specialist Lydia Gall said that “Hungary is exhibit A for the need for stronger European Union action to protect rights inside its own borders.”
“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,” Gall said.
The HRW identified a series of reforms “to bring Hungary’s laws and practices in line with its international and regional obligations” including to drop its “campaign” against civil groups, restore the former powers of the Constitutional Court, ensure the independence of judges, repeal legislation allowing the criminalisation of homelessness, enforce equality between religious organisations, and take action to protect the country’s Roma.
“Every EU member state has room for improvement when it comes to human rights… but faced with a Hungarian government that appears determined to deliberately undermine human rights protection, it is vital for Brussels to act,” Gall said.
The opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) called on the government to “stop trampling on fundamental human rights”. PM co-leader Timea Szabo said in a statement that the human rights situation in Hungary was “disastrous”, and suggested that the problems raised by HRW demonstrated that “the Orban government has been destroying human rights with an axe”.
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) called it unacceptable that the government “denies its own citizens European rights and values”. In a statement, Anna Buzas of the party insisted that the European Court of Human Rights rules against the Hungarian government “nearly each week” for violating people’s right to private property and mentioned for example the suits of tobacconists who lost their shops or people stripped of disability pensions.