European Court of Human Rights to discuss dubious judge integrity policy

May 26, 2017

A request by a Hungarian judge to assess the legality of Hungarian judicial policy has passed the first filter of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and will be discussed in the court again later, reports

According to the new “integrity policy” issued by president of the National Judicial Council (OBH) Tünde Handó (pictured, who is also the wife of Fidesz MEP József Szájer), judges cannot have a second job, must not be members of a political party, and should not accept gifts worth more than 5 percent of their salaries.

Among these fairly reasonable requirements, however, there are some rather odd regulations in the integrity policy, which aims to tackle corruption in the courts. It also requires judges to comply with the values and principles of president Handó.

Judge Péter Szepesházi of the Buda Central District Court and author of the submission to the European Court of Human Rights wants the ECHR to declare that the policy issued by Handó violates  rights of free speech, due process, effective legal remedy and the freedom of assembly.

“A legal institution and a branch of [judicial] power whose members must comply with a person’s (President of the OBH) prevailing principles and voiced values, cannot be democratic and independent,” reads the submission.

Other judges voiced similar concerns regarding the integrity policy and turned to Hungary’s Constitutional Court.

In a recent anonymous survey measuring integrity, OBH asked judges about their membership in NGOs.