Consumer advocacy group says Hungarian judges lack skills to force government to respect rule of law

January 23, 2017

“We are asking the decision makers in the Council of Europe to act with due care to ensure that the Hungarian candidate they elect to the Court will have no adverse effect on the level of protection for Hungarian citizens.”

The PITEE Consumer Protection Association, which is primarily focused on “legal actions that FX debtors are pursuing in order to put the brunt of FX volatility back on the shoulders of their banks”, has issued the following press release concerning the election of the next Hungarian judge to the European Court of Human Rights.

Press release No. 21

Budapest, 23 January 2017

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is preparing to elect a new Hungarian judge to the European Court of Human Rights. In view of the candidates’ curricula, there are reasons to fear that they are not committed to the values of the European Human Rights Convention. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government is preparing for a crackdown on foreign-backed NGOs. As Hungarian courts do not provide effective legal remedies, it is to be expected that targeted NGOs will seek legal protection at the European Court of Human Rights.

The next Hungarian judge on the European Court of Human Rights will be elected this week. The candidates are Ms Krisztina FÜZI-ROZSNYAI, Mr Péter PACZOLAY and Mr Pál SONNEVEND. The candidates’ legal education was shaped by the communist ideology of democratic centralism, which denies the independence of the judiciary. Decision 8/2014 of the Hungarian Constitutional Court proves that even Mr PACZOLAY, who was elected Honorary President of the Venice Commission in 2013, rejects the concept of separation of powers.

Despite the regime change of 1989, Hungarian legal culture is still far behind that of Western Europe. Legal education in Hungary has not been substantially changed in the past 28 years. The language barrier constrains the knowledge transfer from stable constitutional states.

[Prime Minister] Mr Orbán has been able to restore an authoritarian regime because Hungarian judges do not have the required skills to force the Government to respect the rule of law. Day in and day out Orbán demonstrates that nothing, not even the law, can stand against his safe majority in parliament.

This can be clearly observed in connection with the Government’s efforts to solve the FX mortgage crisis, the migration crisis and the bankruptcy of the investment company Quaestor.

The planned crackdown on foreign-backed NGOs will be the next step in the serial violation of democratic standards. The NGOs will seek protection against the Government’s actions in the Hungarian courts. But their prospect of success is very slim. The Hungarian court system is still firmly in the grip of judges who received their legal education under the communist regime. These judges will not oppose the Government to protect democratic values and European human rights standards, which makes it very likely that more and more cases will be brought before the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights is the only court with jurisdiction in Hungary where Hungarian citizens can hope for a fair trial and effective legal remedies.

We are asking the decision makers in the Council of Europe to act with due care to ensure that the Hungarian candidate they elect to the Court will have no adverse effect on the level of protection for Hungarian citizens.