The statement of the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe on Hungary’s law on the churches

Every year the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organizes the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM). This year the meeting takes place in Warsaw. One of the participating organizations is the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF). They prepared an “intervention” which they will present on September 30 at one of the working sessions entitled “Tolerance and non-discrimination II/Intolerance against Christians and members of other religions.”

This is the text of FOREF’s recommendations and intervention:

* * *

foref

Hungary: New Religious Law at Variance with OSCE Standards and
the European Convention on Human Rights

Recommendations:

That the Government of Hungary, and specifically the Minister of Human Capacities, place back on the official registry of incorporated churches included in the appendix of Act CCVI (206) of 2011 those churches deregistered unconstitutionally and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by Parliament in 2011. Hungary should honor its international legal commitment to the European Convention and abide by the Court’s decision.

That Hungary should modify its church law so that legal recognition of churches is not determined by 2/3 vote of Parliament, something criticized in both the European Court and the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

That participating States to assist Hungary to harmonize its laws in accordance with the Helsinki standards and international human rights law.

Intervention:

The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF) is an independent, secular, civil society formation dedicated to defending the freedom of religion in accordance with international law.  We wish to express our deep concern about policies of the government of Hungary that violate Human Dimension commitments undertaken by the participating States in the Helsinki Final Act and in the Madrid, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Maastricht documents.  These policies have resulted in arbitrary discrimination against religious communities, and have given the state illegal and inappropriate power to interfere in religious life.

In 2011, the Hungarian Parliament passed a new law on “the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on the Legal Status of Churches, Religious Denominations and Religious Communities.”  The law abolished the previous practices of treating religious communities equally and registering them through the courts, and instituted a tiered system that discriminates between “incorporated churches” and others that enjoy fewer rights and privileges, and which refers determination of “incorporated church” status to a 2/3-majority vote in Parliament. The law resulted in the de-registration of at least two hundred churches, including, inter alia Methodist, Pentecostal, Adventists and reform Jewish churches, as well as Buddhist and Hinduist congregations.  It has exposed religious organizations to bureaucratic harassment.
In February 2013, Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled that 67 churches that had been deregistered unconstitutionally were therefore still churches.  According to point 217 of the Hungarian Court’s decision,

One of the requirements of possessing church status is that the minister must place religious communities that possess such status on the registry. Since, as a consequence of the Constitutional Court’s present decision, the provision is no longer in effect which stipulates the minister’s act of registration is tied exclusively to Parliament’s recognition of a church, there is no legal obstacle preventing religious communities, whose applications were rejected by the decision of Parliament, but who, as a result of the retroactive effect of this decision have not lost their church status … from reporting their data to the minister who can then register them.

Unfortunately, the government has deliberately disregarded the Court’s orders. The Ministry of Human Capacities has rejected the written requests of at least four deregistered churches to be placed on the registry of incorporated churches (Magyarországi Evangélium Testvérközösség, Budapesti Autonóm Gyülekezet, Isten Gyülekezete Pünkösdi Egyház, Fény és Szeretet Egyháza).   In a response worthy of a novel by Franz Kafka, the Ministry stated that it could not place the groups on the registry because according to the law, incorporated churches are already on the registry, and the churches making the request were not on the registry.  Of course, the reason they are not on the registry is because the government will not place them there. In yet an even more Kafkaesque twist, when these deregistered churches have turned to the Hungarian courts, the courts have consistently ruled that the Ministry should have placed them on the official registry. But because the courts can’t force the Ministry to register the churches, it has ordered that the churches should resubmit their request to the Hungarian Government, which can, of course, refuse again to comply with the written request ad infinitum.

Instead of adhering to the rule of law and abiding with the highest court, the Hungarian Parliament amended Hungary’s Basic Law in a way that explicitly grants Parliament the right to render arbitrary decisions concerning church registration.   The procedure by which Parliament determines the legal status of individual churches was also criticized explicitly by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) as incompatible with the standards of due process (Opinion 664/2012 par. 76-77).  According to the European Court of Human Rights the scheme of parliamentary recognition “inherently carries with it the disregard of neutrality” (Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Others v. Hungary, par. 102).  The Basic Law is thus in blatant violation of a fundamental principle of religious freedom and human rights.  No legislative body should have the power to rule over religious freedom.

In April 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that that Hungarian Parliament’s deregistration of legally recognized churches constituted an interference with those groups’ fundamental rights as secured by articles 9 and 11 of the European Convention (Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Others v. Hungary). Hungary appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber.  The Grand Chamber rejected that appeal in September 2014, so the decision is now final and binding.
In light of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as our common Helsinki principles that uphold the freedom of religious communities from discrimination, and given the ruling by Hungary’s own Constitutional Court, FOREF respectfully asks that the Government of Hungary, and specifically the Minister of Human Capacities, Zoltán Balog, place those churches deregistered unconstitutionally by Parliament in 2011, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, back on the official registry of incorporated churches included in the appendix of Act CCVI (206) of 2011. Hungary should honor its international legal commitment to the European Convention and abide by the Court’s decision.

Furthermore, Hungary should modify its church law so that legal recognition of churches is not determined by 2/3 vote of Parliament, something criticized in both the European Court and the Hungarian court.

We ask the support of participating States to assist Hungary to harmonize its laws in accordance with the Helsinki standards and international human rights law.  Thank you for your attention.

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petofi
Guest

“….participating states to assist Hungary…”

That brings to mind a frequent scene in movies where two assailants beat the bejesus out of
a third party behind some building, and then ‘assist’ him into their car as if he were drunk.

Member

I am sorry Eva, but Hungary’s non-compliance with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…… just keeps happening. While Orban is doing his peacock dance he is so proud of, while Orban’s government is distributing the EU’s taxpayers money by illegal means (non-publicized government tenders for example), while Orban is walking around giving out sallers and kokis to the members of the EU, and forces any available watchdog organizations to spend more and more money on studies, and analysis that proves over and over again that he and his party undermines any western values, he and his band of thieves of any decency is being treated as an infantile child. They are sent to the corner where they promise to be good, and then they are out again to do what they do best. Once again, here is an other study that proves what we (and most intelligent people) knew for a long time.
So, what?

failed candidate
Guest

Lajos Bokros is a complete disaster. He is one of the most hated people in the country and much much worse than Ferenc Falus ever was. In every regard. Falus said some funny things but many people just HATE Bokros.

In fact Bokros’s candidacy collapsed on the first day, when PM and MSZP party leadership announced that they do not support his candidacy.

In fact they are against Bokros with full force. I bet they are still very angry about the “casting” that derailed Csaba Horvath the MSZP politician who was preparing for 8 years to become Lord Mayor of Budapest.

When you steal 8 years from someone’s life like that for no good reason, it is no wonder you can make them into an enemy very easily.

There will be no MSZP candidate. There will be no MSZP name on the ballot at all.

This never happened ONCE in the past 70 years, MSZP or MSZMP was always on the ballot.

Always. MSZP leadership is in a complete rage. Crushing Bokros might just be their first move.

hdd
Guest

Well without MSZP and PM support I can’t imagine Bokros can win even second place.

On MSZP being finished: they will have dozens of mayors in major cities, many people in parliament, they have hundreds of employees and tens of thousands of party members. It is not so easy for huge party like that to just be “finished”.

In the long term anything is possible I guess. But as the quote says: “in the long term, we are all dead”.

tappanch
Guest

Journalist to Orban: “What is your opinion of [new foreign minister] Szijjarto’s palace [villa]?”

Orban’s spokesman to journalist:
“We are going to a celebration.
There is no need to disturb people [with such questions] ”

tappanch
Guest

http://92.52.253.141/rtlhirek/hirado/2014/09_szeptember/29/eh_140929_szijjarto.mp4

The problem is that Szijjarto could not have possibly earned enough money to purchase the real estate. The Hungarian IRS will not investigate Orban’s minion.

bob
Guest

I read that Szijjarto’s house costs around 500k USD. That’s not that expensive for a house at all. Considering that when you buy a house you don’t simply lose the money. You make an investment which may even rise in value.

Pretty much 500k is a middle class house. Or half a flat in a good location. I have some distant relatives who own a flat (not even a house) which is worth around 1.2 million. And they are not rich at all, they are middle class.

Being rich is a different category altogether. Rich families have hundreds of millions of dollars. Like the Romney family or the Clintons who never worked in non-politics jobs and somehow accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars (that’s just their visible wealth they probably have billions tucked away in a few places).

No matter how you look at it, 500k is not a huge sum for a house.

Member

@bob: And where do you live exactly? By the way in the Ukraine you can buy a whole village for that kind of money, so you must be right!

GW
Guest

Bob, a half a million USD for a house in Hungary _is_ expensive for Hungary (where the net average wage is 680 USD/month) and is impossible to finance with a Hungarian parliamentarian’s (which is 30% larger than the average wage) or minister’s salary.

petofi
Guest

@Bob

Only a moron or a Troll would write what you wrote. People don’t generally exhibit their ignorance so I guess you’re a Troll littering our blog with nonsense.

By the way, who cleans up after you at home?

Istvan
Guest

Petofi apparently the blog is cluttered with trolls these days, oh I forgot you declared me a troll too the other day. Good god the’re everywhere.

Member

What do the big well established churches to defend the harassed denominations rights to freedom of religion? Virtually nothing. They are dependent on economic support from the government so they are tied up.

drum
Guest
As to Csaba Horvath, the guy may have been preparing but he was apparently one of those people like Zsolt Molnar (anybody remember the campaign chief of MSZP who was trying to kill, as opposed to spread media stories about fideszniks?), a bit too cozy with Fidesz, if you know what I mean. But why couldn’t come up MSZP with anybody on its own other than Horvath? Why did such a “grand” party have no one willing candidate who could answer simple questions and who had no skeletons in the closet like that district VII guy who was taped? Falus was an unbelievable disaster, bordering on insanity. Bokros is not a leftist, but doesn’t matter, he will anyway lose, and the Hungarian left is finished. Hopefully a new chapter will open, if not, Jobbik is here to take over the voter base. They “are young, clean and want good for Hungarians”. Pretty good image, if you think about it. And they don’t argue all the time like those lefties do. This image of debating and arguing is deadly in this age. Voters have zero tolerance for debates and stupidity, they want decisive action or at least a chance of it.… Read more »
die kakerlaken
Guest

Szijjarto’s house is not 400 (as we were told), but 700sqm or about 7,000 square feet in size. His utility bill is well over USD 2,000 a month. In Hungary, not in Westchester County or in the Hamptons.

tappanch
Guest

The Statistical Office just replaced the old computation of the GDP with the ESA2010.

This resulted in an instant 2.6% increase of the GDP number and an automatic
2% decrease in the debt/GDP ratio. This way Orban may be able to declare a phony victory
over the debt in December.

http://www.portfolio.hu/gazdasag/mar_nem_annyi_a_magyar_gdp_mint_amennyi_volt.3.204340.html

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@drum: fascist propaganda by the book. Have you stockpiled the castor oil already?

tappanch
Guest

The gross debt of the central government was 24.4793 trillion forints on 09-26-2014, a 22.8% increase since Orban’s takeover (05-31-2010), or about a 36% increase with the nationalized and spent private retirement funds.

HiBoM
Guest

@bob The point about Szijarto’s house is not how expensive it is, rather that he could not possibly afford it from his official earnings. And although Eva Balogh seems to think that he did indeed get the money from his parents, I don’t think anyone else seriously believes that.

Bokros will be elevated or crushed by the voters, not by the squabbling parties. Calling him a “rightist” is pretty idiotic but par for the course in Hungary. He is a fiscal conservative, or rather, a pragmatist who understand that bills have to be paid. In social and other matters, he is clearly liberal. But what I think his candidature does achieve is that it gives a voice to someone who talks intelligently and articulately on important issues. And that is such a rarity in Hungary these days that it is to be strongly welcomed.

chandlerozconsultants
Guest

Churches and States should be entirely separate everywhere.

chandlerozconsultants
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

chandlerozconsultants
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

tappanch
Guest

Renegade fidesznik Angyan’s 21-year old institute at the Gödöllő Agricultural University has been disbanded abruptly.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/09/30/angyan_intezete/

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Mr Ángyán’s comments are here:

http://www.kielegyenafold.hu/vzhn.php?id=12220

petofi
Guest

Re: Angyan

The case of Angyan illustrates the country in a nutshell: he is a man of learning, of intelligence,
of dignity, of honesty…who wished only to right a criminal wrong. And so they cut off his professional life at the knees. Meanwhile, the good Christian laity care not a whit–they go on to pray for ‘our Viktor’ each Sunday.

Has there ever been a dumber, more amoral society, in Europe?

I imagine that Sodom and Gomorah must have been something like this…

Feta
Guest

re Angyan

As it was discussed retaliation must absolutely be inevitable if order is to be maintained. This is how the mafia works all over the world from the Camorra to Los Zetas. The problem is that the mafia is almost indestructible where it gains foothold. In a way, mafia is a symptom of deeper problems, for which apparently there exists no real cure.

Guest

Not too much OT:

For everybody who can read German a scathing satirical essay on the latest personnel changes aka personnel carousel in Orbán’s government – a splendid piece of satire!

http://www.pesterlloyd.net/html/1439personalkarrussell.html

Guest

The mafia is angry – don’t know if this has been reported here yet:

Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the US charge d’affaires, Andre Goodfriend, to discuss comments made recently by US President Barack Obama about the situation of civil society in Hungary.

http://www.politics.hu/20140927/hungary-summons-top-us-diplomat-over-civil-society-remarks/

I just hope that Mr. Goodfriend stays in Budapest – though I couldn’t be angry with him if he chooses an easier workplace. In any case he has already done a lot for democracy in Hungary, thank you, sir!

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