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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora