16:35 - HUNGARY: MINISTRY OF JUSTICE ON CRITICISM FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - A curtailment of free speech and religion and serious discrimination against the Roma population were among the most criticised matters by the Amnesty International (AI) in its Country Report 2011 regarding Hungary released last week. According to the director of the institutions Hungarian unit, Orsolya Jeney, the new media legislation could cause a disproportionate and unjustified curtailment in the right to free speech and opinion. Jeney said that religious freedoms were restricted last year with the church law, which gave lawmakers the right to decide about the church status of organizations. According to the report, discrimination against the Roma population was one of the biggest problems in Hungary and cited the events in Gyongyospata, a village in northern Hungary where racially-motivated tension sparked last spring. AI criticised Hungarys new constitution which came into effect in January this year, saying that protection of rights of the fetus from conception was a step back in terms of human rights as it could trigger unpredictable legislation. (continued)
16:36 - HUNGARY: MINISTRY OF JUSTICE ON CRITICISM FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL (2)
The reaction of Hungarian Ministry of justice was immediate. According to its statement, the AIs report failed to cover the major steps Hungary has taken to enforce human rights over the past two years while remaining silent about insults to ethnic Hungarians abroad. The ministry emphasized that the freedoms of speech and expression are guaranteed by Hungarys constitution, media constitution and media law, saying that neither the Hungarian government, nor other political or civil organisations have the right or opportunity to interfere with the daily editorial work of the electronic or traditional media. The statement reads that Hungarys church law had been qualified as one of Europes most liberal church laws, even by the Council of Europes Venice Commission and it does not prevent anyone from exercising freedom of religion. In regard to the Roma situation, the ministry noted that the government has taken resolute measures to increase the efficiency of the judiciary, penal procedures and the police so that the violent anti-Roma attacks should not be repeated and left unpunished. In relation to the AIs criticism of Hungarys new constitution, the ministry insists that it complies with traditions of European constitutions, meets all criteria of the rule of law and the commitments Hungary assumed upon its EU accession in 2004.