Rights group: EU must act, Hungarian govt harms rule of law

AP News
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Posted: Nov 04, 2016 9:45 AM
Rights group: EU must act, Hungarian govt harms rule of law

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary's "sustained attack" on human rights and the rule of law since Prime Minister Viktor Orban's return to power in 2010 demands more vigilance and reaction from the European Union, a human rights organization said Friday.

An 84-page report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said Hungary's new constitution and sweeping legislation passed since 2010 have greatly increased Orban's executive power and "threatened democratic principles, the rule of law and human rights."

"These attacks are undermining democracy in Hungary but also the European Union's founding values," said FIDH secretary general Dan Van Raemdonck. "If no action is taken, it is the whole European Union project as a community of values which is put into question."

The Hungarian government said Orban's democratic re-election, economic achievements and the decision to keep out "mass illegal migration that boosts terror risks and criminality and endangers Hungarian culture" had to be respected.

"We reject the groundless, politically motivated aspersions of the FIDH," the Foreign Ministry said. "The Hungarian government is protecting the security, interests and rights of Hungarians even if some international organizations calling themselves rights protectors do not like it."

The FIDH report detailed a wide range of activities, from the government's intimidation of civic groups and its efforts to control the media to the razor-wire border fences that Hungary built last year to stop the flow of migrants, which the FIDH said were a cause for concern.

The rights group said EU reaction to the Orban government's excesses had been insufficient.

"The response of the EU to a serious deterioration of the rule of law in one of its member states has remained timid," the report said.

It noted that while some legal challenges by the EU had forced Hungary to amend some legislation, like the media law or a law regulating the distribution of court cases, "no concrete steps have been taken to date to address this deterioration and the serious threat it represents to the EU's founding values."