The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) held a debate concerning the state of democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary.
Justice Minister László Trócsányi, representing the Hungarian government, told the hearing that Hungary "welcomes the participation of civil society in resolving the challenges facing Europe" but their role "should be differentiated from the role of governments since the latter have the strongest legitimacy". The government is "open to dialogue and a number of issues have already been successfully concluded based on a constructive approach", he insisted.
Representatives of the Center for Fundamental Rights, Amnesty International, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee were also among participants at the hearing. Some rights groups were critical of what they called the Hungarian government's restrictions of basic rights while one argued that democracy and the separation of powers were working well in Hungary. Miklós Szánthó of the Center for Fundamental Rights claimed that besides the "proper functioning of democracy and its institutions", the media was becoming "more balanced" after having been "dominated by the liberal media."
Stefánia Kapronczay, the co-leader of Hungarian rights NGO TASZ, said there were very few media left in Hungary that can be considered independent. She said that recently a number of media companies have ended up in the hands of businesspeople with close ties to the government. Amnesty International researcher Tódor Gárdos regretted the erosion of human rights guarantees, a lack of democratic debates and the harassment and surveillance of civil organisations.
Euobserver writes, that Hungary should be ringing alarm bells in Brussels. As the online newsportal notes, Hungary's governing party is cranking up the heat on non-governmental organisations. With its tight grip on parliament and having undermined the courts and the media, the Fidesz party government doesn't like being held to account by pesky independent groups. Fidesz is a prime example of the danger of a type of populism that results in a government attacking basic European values like a free civil society.
Eu observer notes as well, that Hungary rejects criticism of NGO crackdown. According to the newsportal the Hungarian government continues to label organisations like Amnesty International as "political agents" in a move civil society says is part of a plan to intimidate dissenting voices. Hungary has drawn criticism from human rights defenders who say its migration and asylum policies, border crackdowns, and restrictions on media are part of a broader authoritarian trend.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 20:58