The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has called on the Hungarian authorities to implement the Szabó and Vissy v. Hungary group of cases from the European Court of Human Rights.
In a its Interim Resolution adopted during its March Human Rights meeting, 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.
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.
An interim resolution is a form of decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers aimed at overcoming more complex situations requiring special attention.
Decision of the Committee of Ministers