The Venice Commission has issued an opinion on three Hungarian laws acknowledging their merits as well as making recommendations for changes, a copy of the document sent to MTI on Tuesday shows.
The Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters assessed the law on the Constitutional Court, on the prosecution and on the national minorities.
In connection with the law on the Constitutional Court, the Commission saw it as being a well-worded, coherent piece of legislation overall.
The Commission commended several of the law’s provisions, for instance the one ruling out the reappointment of constitutional court judges, as well as the stipulation that a quarter of parliamentary deputies or the ombudsman for fundamental rights can initiate an ex-post review of laws.
The Commission, at the same time, said that several of the law’s provisions should be reviewed, noting for instance that the top court’s independence should be enshrined in Hungary’s constitution, separate rules of procedures should be applied for setting a clear definition of the rather vague term of “indignity” and procedures in the case of two types of complaints filed by individuals should be made more unambiguous.
In its opinion on the law on the prosecutor’s office the body said that it ensured a broad scope of independence to the chief prosecutor, who has the powers to exercise strong hierarchic control over prosecutors. This is not in conflict with European norms, but there should be “checks and balances” installed, which are not at an advanced stage yet in the Hungarian system.
The Commission said that most of its comments refer not to new regulations, but to “excessive powers” granted to prosecutors already before the democratic transition. It said in its recommendations that prosecutors should only have functional immunity and that the provision on the chief prosecutor’s right to delegate cases to particular courts should be abolished.
In the conclusion of the opinion on the minority law, the Commission said that “Hungary has continued to pay particular attention to the promotion and protection of minority rights and to make specific efforts to ensure protection and preservation of the ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity, traditions and cultural heritage of its nationalities.”
The legislation, however, “appears [...] at times excessively detailed” which may lead to difficulties in implementation. The legislation, being a two-thirds law, may be a source of difficulties should it be amended in the future, the Commission said in the opinion.
The Strasbourg-based body adopted the three opinions at its sessions last Friday and Saturday.