Terug Hungary: The proposal for a “defence of national sovereignty” package should be abandoned

Hungary: The proposal for a “defence of national sovereignty” package should be abandoned

“The proposal to establish an ‘Office for the Defence of Sovereignty’ in Hungary, that would be vested with broad powers to investigate any organisation or person suspected of serving foreign interests or threatening national sovereignty, poses a significant risk to human rights and should be abandoned”, said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.

“Under a President appointed by the President of the Republic on a proposal from the Prime Minister, it would have unlimited authority to request sensitive data and private information from anyone, without oversight and without any legal remedy. The draft package of laws submitted to Parliament, jointly with a parallel proposal by the Government to insert a reference to the new Office into the Fundamental Law, is so vague that the invasive scrutiny of the proposed Office could be weaponised against anybody who may be considered an adversary due, for instance, to ‘activities aimed at influencing democratic debate’.

I have consistently warned against the steps taken in Hungary to impose arbitrary restrictions to the indispensable work of human rights NGOs and defenders in the country. I have also expressed concern about the overreach of executive powers and the efforts to undermine the independence of the judiciary. If this proposal is adopted, it will provide the executive with even more opportunity to silence and stigmatise independent voices and opponents.

Draft laws with such far-reaching consequences on the functioning of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Hungary should undergo comprehensive scrutiny and meaningful consultation before they are submitted to Parliament. I call on the Hungarian Parliament to shelve these proposals and use its legislative and oversight powers to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in line with the European Convention and the core values of the Council of Europe.”

Strasbourg 27/11/2023
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