Hungarian presidency’s human rights performance fails to impress – Amnesty International

Budapest, 4 April 2011

When Hungary began its six-month presidency of the European Union, Amnesty International recommended various measures to reinforce EU protection for human rights. As the presidency reaches its half-way point, the organisation has expressed disappointment at Hungary’s performance to date.

“Hungary has repeatedly failed to deliver on its commitment to build a union with a human touch”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Hungary has itself been in the limelight for various attacks on human rights. These include constitutional reforms hostile to homosexual people, the harassment of Roma communities by extremists, and a new media law which threatens freedom of expression. Hungary has scarcely been a model of EU human rights observance.”

On EU-wide questions, Amnesty International has criticised the Hungarian presidency’s failure to make progress on asylum and migration-related issues, including the detention of asylum-seekers and refugees, and the accountability of the EU borders agency, Frontex. Regarding the human rights of the EU’s Roma communities, Amnesty International has charged the presidency with failing to promote EU measures which get to grips with the exclusion of Roma people, and omitting to condemn promptly discriminatory activity in Hungary and elsewhere.

Finally, there is criticism of the presidency’s unresponsiveness to Amnesty International’s request for it to rally EU support for ten people whose human rights abuse has been highlighted. “Ultimately, human rights are about protecting people. We handed the Hungarian presidency a list of ten individuals who are suffering the consequences of having their human rights violated. We regret that scant progress has been made on any of these cases”, said Beger.

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