A new constitution and cardinal laws entered into force on January 1, 2012, weakening human rights protection, stripping the constitutional court of some powers, and undermining judicial independence, including a forced retirement affecting 300 judges. In November, the CJEU ruled that lowering the retirement age for judges constituted unjustified age discrimination.
In January, 348 religious groups lost their status as "churches" under the new constitution. The constitution also defines the right to life as starting from conception, raising concerns about reproductive rights; limits the right to vote for persons with mental disabilities; and defines family in a way that excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
In November, the Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional a law adopted in April criminalizing homelessness with repeat offenders subject to fines or imprisonment. No one was prosecuted while the law was in force.
Despite criticism by the CoE, the European Commission, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representative on media freedom, the Hungarian government failed to sufficiently amend problematic media laws. The main media regulator, the Media Council, lacks political independence, potential fines for journalists are excessive, and requirements for content regulation are unclear. Journalists and media outlets reported self-censorship and editorial interference. At this writing, the Media Council had yet to renew the long-term broadcast license of leading independent news station Klubradio, despite three court rulings in the station's favor.
Roma continue to face discrimination and harassment. In July and August, rightwing paramilitary groups marched through Romani settlements threatening residents and attacking homes. In August, paramilitaries threw stones and bottles at Romani houses and shouted threats in Devecser during a march against "gypsy crime." Police were present at the time but made no arrests. A police investigation was ongoing at this writing.
There were several anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish leaders and memorials. In October, two assailants beat and insulted a Jewish leader in Budapest. He suffered minor injuries. Police later arrested the attackers, who were in custody at this writing.
Hungary continued to return asylum seekers and migrants to neighboring countries, including Serbia and Ukraine, despite lack of access to asylum, risk of return to persecution in third countries, and in the case of Ukraine, risk of ill-treatment in detention. In October, the ECtHR ruled in two separate cases that Hungary had unlawfully detained asylum seekers in 2010 without effective judicial review of their detention.
Disclaimer: © Copyright, Human Rights Watch