Archive item

Title: U.S. Helsinki Commission Hearing "The Trajectory of Democracy: Why Hungary Matters": Testimony by Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska, Freedom House
Other/original title:
Publisher: U.S. Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe)
Files: CSCE __ Testimony __ Ms Habdank Kolaczkowska.pdf
Abstract: The U.S. Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe), an independent agency of the U.S. federal government chaired by Sen. Benjamin Cardin and U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, organized a hearing on the state of democracy in Hungary on March 19, 2013, inviting a number of speakers to present on the subject. This is the testimony by Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska, Director for Nations in Transit - Freedom House. Her organisation has repeatedly drawn attention to the potential threats to Hungary's democracy, posed by legislative changes affecting the media sector, data protection authority, and judicial system, she told the commission. In her testimony, she focused on the regulation of the Hungarian media and churches. Reviewing the media laws, she highlighted the one-sided composition of the Media Authority and Media Council; their sanctioning powers regarding "numerous vaguely worded provisions affecting all print, broadcast, and online media, including service providers and publishers"; the broad scope of content requirements; the dominant position of state news agency MTI and its questionable objectivity; and the Media Authority's unusual proceedings regarding the broadcasting frequency of oppositional radio station Klubradio. In her testimony, Habdank-Kolaczkowska also describes amendments which were made to the media laws following a 2011 ruling by Hungary’s Constitutional Court and recommendations by the Council of Europe, but she notes their limited scope and uncertain permanence, "given the government’s recent habit of ignoring or overruling Constitutional Court decisions by inserting voided legislation into the constitution".
Publication/ adoption date: 2013-03-19
Language: English