Committee Opinion | Doc. 13832 | 23 June 2015
Situation in Hungary following the adoption of Assembly Resolution 1941 (2013)
Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media
A. Conclusions of the committee(open)
B. Proposed amendments to the draft resolution:(open)
Amendment A (to the draft resolution)
In paragraph 2.1, first sentence, delete the phrase “and there are no restrictions on Hungarian citizens following their chosen faith”.
Amendment B (to the draft resolution)
After paragraph 2.1, add the following paragraph:
“referring to the report on Hungary published on 16 December 2014 by the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Assembly notes with concern that the report found widespread presence of racist and extremist organisations and movements in Hungary and extremism in the country’s political arena. These findings are also reflected by the report on Hungary adopted by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on 19 March 2015. Therefore, the Assembly urges Hungary to implement the recommendations by the Commissioner for Human Rights and ECRI;”
Amendment C (to the draft resolution)
In paragraph 2.5, delete the second and third sentences and add the following sentences at the end:
“For its part, in its Resolution 2035 (2015), the Assembly urged the Hungarian Parliament to pursue further reforms of its legislation in order to improve the independence of the media regulatory authorities, the State news agency and the public service broadcasters, to increase transparency and pluralism in the private media, as well as to combat racist expressions against ethnic minorities. In accordance with Opinion 798/2015 of the Venice Commission on the Hungarian media legislation, the Assembly calls on Hungary to implement those recommendations.
Amendment D (to the draft resolution)
In paragraph 3, delete the last sentence and add the following sentence:
“The Assembly remains seized of the media situation in Hungary in the framework of its future reports on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe as well as on new methods of political influence over independent journalism. The situation of racism and intolerance also requires special attention.”
C. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Flego, rapporteur for opinion(open)
2. Specific explanations of the amendments
The statement that “there are no restrictions on Hungarian citizens following their chosen faith” is not in line with the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and others v. Hungary, Applications Nos. 70945/11, 23611/12, 26998/12, 41150/12, 41155/12, 41463/12, 41553/12, 54977/12 and 56581/12) and the findings of the actual situation in Hungary by the Commissioner for Human Rights. Therefore, this phrase should be deleted.
The latest reports on Hungary by the Commissioner for Human Rights and ECRI are very explicit on the existence of racist and extremist organisations and movements in Hungary. Given that the fight against racism and intolerance is a priority for the Council of Europe, the Assembly must urge Hungary to implement the recommendations by the Commissioner for Human Rights and ECRI.
For its part, the Assembly not only invited the Venice Commission, but also urged the Hungarian Parliament to pursue further reforms of its legislation. By omitting this part, the Assembly could give the wrong impression that it has given up its latter position. In addition, Opinion No. 798/2015 of the Venice Commission is already available and its findings should be echoed by the Assembly.
Given the serious concerns expressed recently by the Commissioner for Human Rights, ECRI and the Venice Commission, the Assembly cannot declare that an examination of these matters by the Assembly should now be concluded. Two reports by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe and on new methods of political influence over independent journalism, which are currently being prepared, will provide a means for the Assembly to remain seized of the media situation in Hungary. In addition, the situation of racism and intolerance in Hungary also requires special attention by the Assembly, which even had to withdraw the right to speak of a former Hungarian member of the Assembly as a consequence of unacceptable declarations made by that person during an Assembly session. The decision to build up a wall at the border between Hungary and Serbia to stop the flow of illegal migrants, which has now been announced, is a further worrying signal.