June 14th, 2017

Top court annuls provisions for national security screening of judges

The Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional and annulled certain legal provisions requiring the national security vetting of judges. The court’s ruling comes after Péter Darák, the head of the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, requested that the court declare provisions of the law on national security agencies pertaining to the vetting of judges unconstitutional and annul them. He noted in his appeal that national security laws passed in 2013 established new national security rules applying to the judiciary as well. Under those rules, only the heads of the Kuria and the national judicial office OBH were exempt from vetting.

Darák also noted that under the law, judges are required to undergo national security vetting while lawmakers are not. The appeal also said it was impossible to determine the exact situations in which the rule needs to be applied to judges. Darák said the provisions in question violated the independence of the judiciary, the principles of the rule of law, legal certainty and the separation of powers. The Constitutional Court took the 2013 law under scrutiny earlier after a report by the ombudsman and annulled several of its provisions citing unconstitutionality.

The top court said that claims submitted by Darák were well established. It said in the justification of its decision that the protection of national security interests is defined as a constitutional principle and as a duty of the state, whereas the law in place allows for the possibility of abuse that infringes on the independence of the judiciary. The court said judicial independence is a top priority in any state governed by law, therefore rules governing the branch must be clearly defined.

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  • Under those rules, only the heads of the Kuria and the national judicial office OBH were exempt from vetting.
    Darák also noted that under the law, judges are required to undergo national security vetting while lawmakers are not.

    So the most powerful people in Hungary would NOT be vetted…but the judges who convict petty thieves should…

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