HUNGARY: UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW - CIVICUS Statement at the Human Rights Council

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes Hungary’s commitment to engage with the Universal Periodic Review process and takes seriously the recommendations made by states and other stakeholders during the 2nd cycle review.

We urge the Government of Hungary to accept all recommendations made, and draw particular attention to those recommendations related to the recent erosion of respect for fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

We welcome the government’s acknowledgment during the interactive dialogue that civil society plays an important part in public life in Hungary, however we dispute the government’s assertion that civil society ‘had room for criticizing the Government’ [see paragraph 105 of the interactive dialogue]. In reality, not all civil society organisations have this room.

As outlined in our submission to this review, CIVICUS remains seriously concerned by the current government’s attempts to target and undermine the good name of certain civil society organisations, in particular those promoting human rights, democracy and transparency and accountability in public life.

We also remain concerned about waning respect for media freedoms and free speech since Hungary’s last assessment at the UPR. The government’s introduction of restrictive laws, application of targeted tax rules and interference with editorial independence have severely damaged the media’s ability to share a variety of information and opinions with the Hungarian public.

We also note with concern the treatment of refugees in Hungary, whose fundamental freedoms – including their right to peacefully assemble in public as protected by international law – have been violated in recent years.

We believe that these issues merit continued scrutiny by the Human Rights Council and we urge the government to accept all recommendations relating to respect for the fundamental freedoms of all people living in Hungary – be they citizens or refugees. This involves creating an enabling environment for all civil society organisations, ensuring there is no interference with the operation of a free media and protecting the right to peacefully assemble in public. Thank you Mr President