Despite boasting a two-thirds supermajority in Parliament, the government should be more careful when implementing measures with an effect on the freedom of speech and assembly or civil society, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Right Nils Muižnieks told the Hungarian blog EUrológus. He pointed out that in connection with the media law, some problems raised by the Council of Europe, such as the protection of journalists’s sources, has been solved, although he is still concerned about the right of the governing majority to select every single member of the mdia authority. Mr. Muižnieks said that the biggest problem in terms of human rights in Hungary is that the rights of people with disabilities are limited and the management of immigration is also seriously problematic.
Regarding xenophobia and anti-Roma prejudices in Hungary, Mr. Muižnieks said that the number of racially motivated attacks and the parliamentary presence of extremist groups give cause for concern despite Jobbik having toned down its anti-Roma and anti-Semitic statements in the previous election campaign and the Hungarian Guard having been banned by authorities.
The interview comes after the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights issued a highly critical report on the situation of human rights in Hungary, which cited media freedom, widespread intolerance and discrimination, and deficiencies in the protection of immigrants’ rights as the main causes of concern. Commenting on the possible consequences of the report on Hungary, Mr. Muižnieks said that in certain countries, a report can spark far-reaching reforms, such as serving as the basis of new laws or changing the direction of policies beyond being a point of reference to NGOs or the European Commission. He said that reports are often followed by dialogue between national authorities and the Council of Europe. In conclusion, Mr. Muižnieks said that on the basis of the first reactions, he is confident that the present report will not be disregarded.