News / Europe

    Rights Group Urges EU to Sanction Hungary

    Hungary's President Pal Schmitt shows a special edition of the new constitution to Zsuzsanna Miko (L), director of the National Archives of Hungary, in Budapest, Jan. 5, 2012.
    Hungary's President Pal Schmitt shows a special edition of the new constitution to Zsuzsanna Miko (L), director of the National Archives of Hungary, in Budapest, Jan. 5, 2012.
    Lisa Bryant
    A leading rights group is calling on the European Union to take steps toward suspending Hungary's voting rights following much-criticized changes to its Constitution.

    In a 29-page report issued Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims Hungary's recent changes to its Constitution and other legal measures are undermining judicial independence, media rights and even the rights of the homeless.

    Hungary's parliament passed the constitutional amendment in March, sparking popular protests and alarm on the part of foreign governments like the United States and Germany, along with the European Commission and the separate Council of Europe.

    Beyond curbs to basic freedoms, HRW's Balkan and Eastern European researcher Lydia Gall argues the move is at odds with core principles of the European Union, which Hungary joined in 2004.

    "We're talking about principles that talk about the [European] Union being founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy and, most importantly, respect for human rights and the rule of law and I think we're at a point where the situation in Hungary has escalated to the point where these principles - particularly the respect for the rule of law and human rights - are under threat," she said.

    Gall says Hungary has made some recent changes following the criticism - but they are not enough. The European Parliament has recommended the EU suspend Hungary's voting rights - a move HRW backs.

    "I think we're being pushed to a brink where rhetorical threats and such need to be replaced with more concrete consequences for member states such as Hungary if they are at risk of breaching those principles or if they are in fact breaching those principles," she said.

    Hungary's EU press office in Budapest did not respond to a request for comment on HRW's report. But the government has previously argued its Constitution needed updating.

    European Commission spokesman Mark Gray would not specifically comment on the HRW report.  But he said the EU's executive arm sent Budapest three administrative letters in early May and it expects a response within a month.

    "The Commission continues to have serious concerns about the conformity of the fourth amendment to the Hungarian Constitution with European law," he said. "The Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has been working actively with the Council of Europe to address the concerns that we have raised with the Hungarian authorities."

    The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Budapest has rebutted the EU criticism, claiming it is turning a blind eye on similar moves by other member states.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora