Varga slams rule of law report

Hungary’s justice minister has slammed the European Commission’s latest rule of law report, calling it a tool used to blackmail the country over its child protection law.

We are not surprised: the latest report of the European Commission focuses on the Hungarian Law on Child Protection,” Judit Varga said in an English-language post on Facebook. “According to them, in Hungary right now, there is no rule of law precisely because we protect children’s and parents’ rights at the highest level.” She said the reason behind the EC’s criticism was that “we do not allow LGBTQ activists and any sexual propaganda into Hungarian schools and kindergartens.”

Once again, the EC is worried about the state of Hungarian democracy, while Hungary is working to guarantee the most fundamental rights and protect not just its own constitution but also the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights, she said.

The minister said the “verdict” of the report had been pre-determined, arguing that instead of justification, objectivity and real professional work, it echoed the criticisms of NGOs that were “biased towards Hungary”. Varga said the report was part of a campaign in which the rule of law was not a principle, but “a tool of extortion”.

In its report, the EC welcomed the Hungarian justice system’s high level of digitalisation and its performance in terms of the lengths of proceedings. It added, however, that a recommendation to Hungary to strengthen judicial independence “remains unaddressed”, noting that new rules allowing the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court to the Supreme Court outside of the normal procedure is among developments “adding to existing concerns”. As for the system of checks and balances, the EC said the transparency and quality of the legislative process remained a source of concern.

The EC acknowledged in the report that Hungary is implementing an anti-corruption strategy but said “its scope remains limited”. “Shortcomings persist as regards political party financing, lobbying and ‘revolving doors’. Risks of clientelism, favouritism and nepotism in high-level public administration as well as risks arising from the link between businesses and political actors remain unaddressed,” according to the report.

The EC said media pluralism in Hungary “remains at risk”, adding that “concerns persist with regard to the independence and effectiveness of the Media Authority”. “While no media support schemes were established to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on news media outlets, significant amounts of state advertising have continued to permit the government to exert indirect political influence over the media,” according to the report.

Source and photo: MTI

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