Rights group urges EU to address Hungary’s attack on human rights

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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Friday urged the EU to better address Hungary’s “sustained attack” on human rights and democracy since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took office in 2010.

Upon the beginning of Orbán’s term, Hungary adopted  a new constitution called the Fundamental Law , which has since been criticized for neglecting international human rights standards and fast-tracking political procedures in a manner that jeopardizes the country’s separation of powers.

In the Paris-based organization’s report, the FIDH described how the changes to Hungary’s laws have since threatened the rights of not only its civil society but also the migrants and refugees that have come to its borders.

The FIDH has accused the EU of largely ignoring these issues and failing to utilize the available mechanisms to hold Hungary accountable for its actions. The FIDH has therefore called on the EU to use Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union  to address these issues and suspend Hungary’s treaty rights if necessary. Hungary has rejected the FIDH’s accusations, stressing that the country must be allowed to manage its own national interests and security concerns.

The FIDH’s accusations echo similar statements made by Human Rights Watch (HRW)  in 2015 against the EU for refusing to take action to address Hungary’s laws and practices regarding human rights. In 2013 the Hungarian government enacted constitutional amendments after receiving criticism over its 2012 amendments.

The amendments contained new rules on the recognition of religious groups, as well as modifications to the bans on political advertisements on commercial television and radio stations.

The changes allowed political campaign advertisements on commercial TV and radio, but broadcasters would not be allowed to charge for them. Political parties were also be given equal air time.

The Hungarian Justice Minister stated that the amendments were proposed as the result of pressure due to the harsh criticism Hungary received.

HRW and other human rights groups criticized the changes as “largely cosmetic,” highlighting a lack of resolve over issues surrounding weakened human rights protections in the country.