Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Hungary
On 23 March 2022, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) delivered an oral statement on Hungary during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of Hungary was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI had already submitted a NGO-submission for the UPR-session of Hungary.
The statement reads as follows:
Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute deplore that Hungary has noted a number of recommendations relating to the protection of human rights defenders, including lawyers and the independence of the judiciary because they are considered already implemented. The independence of lawyers and the judiciary is still an issue of great concern in the country.
First, we are disturbed at the harassment of lawyers through the criminalisation of their profession. For example the “Stop Soros” legislation criminalised legal professionals who offered assistance to undocumented migrants. This directly affected lawyers’ ability and right to work independently or by joining/establishing associations on human rights causes.
Second, we are concerned that judicial independence is strongly endangered in Hungary. Recent legislation has actively undermined judicial impartiality. This jeopardises the access to justice, and lawyers’ mission to guarantee this.
Third, we are alarmed by increased levels of public rhetoric against judges and lawyers. In portraying lawyers as enemies of the Hungarian State, the government infringes upon lawyers’ ability to perform their functions free from harassment, threats and intimidation.
We recall that lawyers play a vital role in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. To fulfil their professional duties, lawyers should be able to practice law freely and independently, without harassment or improper interference.We urge Hungary to effectively implement all recommendations relating to the protection of lawyers, and in particular we call on Hungary to:
- Respect the freedom of expression and association of lawyers and judges in order to allow them to accomplish their work to provide access to justice and tackle discrimination, crime, impunity and oppression;
- Take all necessary measures to ensure access to justice, and preserve lawyers’ mission to guarantee that;
- Lastly, safeguard and guarantee a full and effective independence of the judiciary in Hungary.
Click here to see the video statement at 42:42.
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