Saturday, September 17, 2022

Hungary's Orban a Despot

 The EU parliament voted to approve the report on Thursday, which accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of creating an "electoral autocracy". Hungarian civil liberties groups have welcomed the report.

The report criticised Hungary for a host of restrictions on human rights and democratic practices, including attacks on:

  • The independence of judiciary
  • Press freedom
  • LGBT rights
  • Academic freedom
  • Minorities and asylum seekers

MEPs went on to accuse Mr Orban of "deliberate and systematic efforts" to undermine the EU's core values.

"For Hungarian human rights organisations, this is sadly not surprising," Dr Marta Pardavi explained. "This is obviously something that is very painful for us as Hungarian citizens, but we do see that the report's conclusion is inevitable." Dr Parvdavi, who is co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee - a human rights monitoring group - said "very serious violations" of democratic norms have been documented against Mr Orban's regime. "Over the past four years what has happened in Hungary is a solidifying of undemocratic practices," she added. "It [the report] emphasises the ongoing and almost permanent nature of this democratic backsliding."

David Vig, head of Amnesty International in Hungary, said abuses of human rights have increased since a 2018 EU report triggered action against Mr Orban's government.

"It seems to me that there is now a clear consensus in the EU that what's happening in Hungary is wrong." He said the Hungarian government has altered rules around judicial appointments to fill vacancies with political appointees, influenced the public broadcaster to publish "biased" news and attacked the rights of minorities.

Emese Pásztor of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union pointed out, "It is the tactics of the Hungarian government to name scapegoats. They are choosing groups of people and they name them as people who are threatening the interests of the Hungarian people."

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, an MEP who authored the report and serves as the parliament's special rapporteur on the rule of law in Hungary, told the BBC that the Commission must be willing to take firmer action against Budapest. The European Commission - the EU's executive body - is expected to propose cutting up to 70% of Hungary's €24.3bn (£21.28) cohesion funds, intended for infrastructure and development spending. Hungary has reportedly offered some concessions to Brussels to head off the sanctions.

While Ms Pásztor accepted the need to put pressure on the Orban government, she cautioned against actions that harm everyday citizens.

"There is a clear conflict of interest between the interests of the Hungarian people and the Hungarian government," she said, noting that the country needed both EU law to be observed and the bloc's development funds to be delivered. "Somehow the Hungarian government must be held accountable," Ms Pásztor said.

Viktor Orban: Hungary 'autocracy' verdict from EU correct, say activists - BBC News

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