Hungarian Association of Journalists challenges Speaker Kövér

May 8, 2017

Photo: Index

The Hungarian Association of Journalists (MÚOSZ) has condemned Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér for his banning of 60 individuals from parliament — most of them journalists.

“MÚOSZ calls on the Speaker of the National Assembly to cease the legally-baseless curtailing of the public’s right to know, and to see to it that constitutional rights of journalists are ensured,” the association wrote in a statement.

MÚOSZ acted one week after it was reported that Speaker Kövér has banned 60 individuals from parliament’s premises since 2010.

According to the association, banning the reporters from the National Assembly is an unlawful obstruction of the work of journalists and is a serious violation of the Fundamental Law (Hungary’s constitution) and the Media Law.

MÚOSZ cited two pieces of legal text to support its argument. First, the Fundamental Law:

“Hungary shall recognize and protect the freedom and diversity of the press, and shall ensure the conditions for free dissemination of information necessary for the formation of democratic public opinion.”

Then a passage from Hungary’s Media Law:

“The diversity of media services is a particularly important value. The protection of diversity shall also include the avoidance of the formation of ownership monopolies and any unjustified restriction of competition on the market. The provisions of this Act shall be interpreted in consideration of the protection of diversity.”

According to MÚOSZ, by using law-enforcement tactics to restrict journalists’ access to parliament, the Speaker violates the rights of reporters, as well as the public’s fundamental right to know.

In closing, the association called attention to a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that declares the practice of banning journalists from parliament is not compatible with EU law.