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

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More