Ombudsman Mate Szabo has turned to the Constitutional Court and asked the body for a review of passages in Hungary’s new civil code, which seeks to restrict people’s right to criticise public officials, the Ombudsman’s Office told MTI in a statement on Sunday.
The ombudsman voiced concern over stipulations under which people in public positions could only be criticised “out of reasonable public interest”, in a proportionate manner, and without harming their human dignity.
In its statement, the Ombudsman’s Office said that the first requirement created legal uncertainty and a too stringent restriction of the freedom of expression.
Stipulations that critical opinions should be expressed in a proportionate manner and they should not be humiliating already follow from the constitution, but banning criticism of politicians unless it arises from a public interest is unjustified; moreover, reasonableness of that interest is difficult to define, the statement said.
According to the ombudsman, players in public life should live with the fact that their activities are followed by the media and society, and they should have a higher tolerance against critical voices.
Hungary’s new civil code will take effect on March 15, 2014.