Fidesz to modify law on communist-era agent information

May 29, 2017

Photo: Béla Nagy-Magyar Nemzet

Fidesz is preparing to modify the law that regulates research of the communist-era secret services.

A bill proposed by Fidesz vice-president and MP Gergely Gulyás would modify the existing 2003 law by regulating how the magnetic tapes created by state security services until 1989, and classified data created since 1989, would be passed on to the Archives of the State Security Services. The bill is meant to tackle the constant menace of such information leaking and being used for political blackmail.

The modification would allow the Archives to request information regarding the date of death of affected persons from the register of the former communist state security agencies, a process that is currently problematic since the starting date of classification is usually the date of death of the affected person. The bill would also authorize the Archives to take possession of the documents of the state security agencies and manage them.

The bill would authorize the Archives to handle the documents of both military and civil agencies. Another important aspect of the bill is that it would allow courts to look into state security documents in every justifiable case. The modification would also remove the section of the law that has prevented courts from accepting as evidence state security documents possessed without authorization.

The modification of the existing law was requested by The Committee of National Remembrance and the Archives of the State Security Services so that they could handle not only the documents of the state security services (agencies pre-1989) but the current national security services’ as well.

The original 2003 law obliged every affected agency and person to hand in every document created by the state security services along with their copies to the Archives. The current bill would reinstate this obligation while providing immunity to those who submit documents but had failed to do so earlier.

The government recently announced that some new databases created by state security services before 1989 will be handed in to the Archives. Historian Krisztián Ungváry argues that this step is only a partial success as the most interesting documents are still unavailable for historians and the Archives, let alone the public. The deadline for handing in the documents is June 30, 2018, which falls after next year’s parliamentary elections.

According to a recent poll by Republikon, the majority of Hungarian society thinks that the databases of the communist state security services should be disclosed to the public, but the so-called agent files are still barred from public access. Allegations and innuendo about politicians who might have worked as state security agents and informants have been a regular occurrence in Hungarian politics since the change of system in 1989.