Archive item

Title: Opinion on the New Constitution of Hungary, Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 87th Plenary Session
Other/original title:
Publisher: Council of Europe
Files: Opinion on the New Constitution of Hungary by the Venice Commission.pdf
Abstract: This Opinion on the new Constitution (or "Fundamental Law") of Hungary was adopted by the Venice Commission at its 87th Plenary Session in June 2011. The Opinion was drafted at the request of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and based on comments by a working group of Rapporteurs consisting of Christoph Grabenwarter, Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem, Hanna Suchocka, Kaarlo Tuori and Jan Velaers. The aim of the Opinion was to check whether its provisions are in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and in line with the democracy and rule of law standards and values of the Council of Europe. In conclusion, the Opinion states that the adoption of a new Constitution "is a commendable step" and that the recommendations which the Commission had formulated had "been partly taken into account," but it also expresses a range of concerns, from the "lack of transparency, shortcomings in the dialogue between the majority and the opposition [and] insufficient opportunities for an adequate public debate" during the drafting process to "the limitation of powers of the Constitutional Court" and "the significant number of matters relegated .. to cardinal laws requiring a two-thirds majority". Paragraph 74 of the Opinion covers the new constitution's Article IX, which concerns freedom of expression and the press. The Venice Commission "finds it problematic that freedom of the press is not formulated as an individual’s right, but as an obligation of the state," which has "consequences for the substance, direction and quality of the protection, as well as for the chances for successful judicial review in cases of infringements of constitutional rights". Article IX is "even more problematic" because its paragraph 3 "leaves the detailed rules for this freedom and its supervision to a cardinal Act - even without outlining the purposes, contents and restrictions of such a law".
Publication/ adoption date: 2011-06-20
Language: English
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