The situation of Hungarian human rights defenders: mission statement by UN special rapporteur Michel Forst

United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst spent nine days (between February 8 and 16, 2016) reviewing “the situation of human rights defenders to gather first-hand information on challenges faced by civil society in Hungary and explore ways to widen the democratic space.” Forst, who hails from France, has extensive experience on human rights issues, especially on the situation of human rights defenders. Special rapporteurs are not UN  staff members and do not receive a salary. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

What you can read here is the “end of mission statement” of Mr. Forst. Those who are familiar with the situation in Hungary will not be surprised by his findings. I should add here that the United Nations’ Human Rights Office normally doesn’t send rapporteurs to democratic countries in the European Union. The Hungarian situation, especially after the repeated attacks of the government on the Ökotárs Foundation, caused alarm in the office of the high commissioner.

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Michel Forst, rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Michel Forst, rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

End of mission statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Visit to Hungary 8 – 16 February 2016

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by warmly thanking the Government of Hungary for inviting me and for its cooperation throughout this visit. The objective of my visit was to assess, in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue, the environment in which human rights defenders and civil society operate in the country. Today, I will confine myself to some preliminary observations and recommendations on some of the main issues, which will be elaborated in more detail in the report once I review the materials and documents that I have gathered and been provided with. I will present my final report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in March 2017.

At the outset, I wish to note that I am not employed by United Nations and the position I hold is honorary. As an independent expert, I exercise my professional and impartial judgement and report directly to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

I would like to commend the Government of Hungary for its excellent cooperation and efforts to ensure that I could make the most from my visit. I have met with high-level representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Justice. I had a chance to meet with representatives of the Legislation Committee of the National Assembly, Prosecutor-General, Ombudsman, Constitutional and Supreme Courts. I also had meetings with the Office of Immigration and Nationality, Government Control Office and National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. I also met with the Head of the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and members of the diplomatic corps.

During my visit, I have had the opportunity to visit Budapest, Miskolc and Szeged and meet with a wide range of human rights defenders, academicians and representatives of non-governmental organisations, which reinforced my impression of an active and engaged civil society in Hungary.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to meet with me and shared their valuable experiences and insights as well as those who helped in organising this visit.

This is the first visit of this mandate to Hungary, a country which has gone through significant and rapid changes over the past decades. Hungary has transitioned towards free market and has set the foundations of democracy after a long period of authoritarianism. However, in the last five years the far-reaching and extensive constitutional changes have had profound effect on the civil society environment. I will explore these changes in more detail later on.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In line with the international human rights law, the primary duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lies with the State. This includes guaranteeing the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to strive for the protection and realization of human rights. In other words, every one of us has the right to defend all human rights for all.

The Hungarian State is therefore under the obligation to take steps to create necessary conditions, including in the political and legal domains, in order to ensure that everyone in Hungary can enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice.

Ensuring a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders is a principal part of that responsibility. My visit has therefore focused primarily on assessing some of the basic elements of such an enabling environment, namely: a conducive legal, institutional and administrative framework; access to justice; a strong and independent national human rights institution; effective protection policies and mechanisms paying attention to groups at risk and applying gender-sensitive approach; non-State actors that respect and support the work of defenders; and a strong and dynamic community of defenders.

Conducive legal, institutional and administrative framework

Hungary is a party to fourteen universal human rights treaties and conventions. In this connection, I encourage the Government to ratify the remaining three UN treaties, in particular Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as Conventions on All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

I also recommend that the Government considers mainstreaming human rights into the Hungarian institutional and policy framework, including by adopting a national action plan on human rights with clear and specific goals and indicators.

Overall, human rights defenders have been able to effectively carry out their work in Hungary. I have been very much impressed during my visit by the dynamism and competence displayed by Hungarian civil society, which is made up of over 81,000 registered organisations (53,000 associations and 28,000 foundations).

However, defenders increasingly work in a rather polarised and politicised environment. They are exposed to serious challenges which, in some instances, appear to amount to violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as of their legitimate right to promote and defend human rights, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on human rights defenders. I will now briefly highlight some of these challenges, which will be further developed in my report.

  1. a) The weakening of the constitutional framework and rule of law

After 1989, the old Soviet constitution was amended by Hungary to ensure constitutional checks and balances in State power. However, since 2011 over a thousand of laws have been introduced in a rushed manner, without any comprehensive debate or meaningful consultation with civil society. These constitutional changes have gradually removed important checks on the executive branch, weakened the Constitutional Court and led to the centralization and tightening of government’s control over the judiciary, the media, religious organizations and other spheres of public life, directly or indirectly affecting human rights. There is a consensus among international, regional and local observers that these measures have in sum weakened a well-functioning democracy.

And because of the disrupted checks and balances and feeble political opposition, human rights defenders who criticize the Government or raise human rights concerns are quickly intimidated and portrayed as “political” or “foreign agents”. They face enormous pressure through public criticism, stigmatization in the media, unwarranted inspections and reduction of state funding. I have received testimonies of specific examples when authorities tried to de-legitimize defenders and civil society representatives and, at the same time, undermine their work through excessive administrative and financial hurdles, as well as criminal defamation.

Unfortunately, the scope of dialogue between civil society and decision-makers has been steadily shrinking, and authorities have displayed growing lack of interest in such dialogue, especially when it entails an exchange of dissenting views.

In addition to unfriendly rhetoric from government officials, independent civil society organisations are denied access to state-run media outlets, face funding impediments, are blacklisted from government cooperation and are subjected to excessive and unjustified inspections.

I urge the Government to ensure that human rights defenders can conduct their work in a conducive legal, institutional and administrative framework. In this vein, government officials should refrain from criminalizing defenders’ peaceful and legitimate activities. They should instead support the work of independent civil society despite disagreements or criticism of the Government, bearing in mind their invaluable role in advancing Hungarian society. The Government should review and abolish all administrative and legislative provisions that restrict the rights of defenders, and ensure that domestic legislation respects basic principles relating to international human rights law and standards.

  1. b) Freedom of expression

The legislative changes introduced by the Government have also had an impact on the freedom of expression in the country. The media laws specify new content regulations for all media platforms, outline the powers of the new media regulatory body, and set out sanctions for breaches of the laws. The media itself has also undergone through increased state regulation. Defamation remains a criminal offence in Hungary, and is a charge regularly brought against investigative journalists, defenders and watchdog organisations. Journalists who publish critical articles are blacklisted from accessing public events or officials, or can lose their jobs in retaliation.

Hungary was once renowned for its Act on Freedom of Information, which used to guarantee access to public interest information and was supported by strong oversight institutions, headed by a parliamentary ombudsman. Yet after repeated amendments to the regulatory framework, journalists and watchdog organisations now lament about reduced accessibility of public interest information and frequent denials of requests for such information.

Moreover, the last amendment of July 2015, adopted within days of introduction and without public consultation, allows a government agency that possesses pubic interest data to charge the requesting party ‘labour costs associated with completing the information request’, to be determined by that agency. Even more concerning are reports of a planned draft legislation on postal services. It would apparently exclude the contracts of the Hungarian Post from the scope of freedom of information. It would also exclude requests that “disproportionately hamper the business activities” of Hungarian Post from the scope of public interest information. Human rights defenders justifiably fear that such law, if adopted, will become a precedent to future strings of decrees exempting state-owned companies from freedom of information oversight. I urge the Government to halt its efforts aimed at shrinking the scope of public interest information and the accessibility of such data to civil society. This is essential part of open and good governance, which should be reinforced instead.

  1. c) Freedom of association

The legal framework in Hungary is generally hospitable to freedom of association. It provides for two legal forms of non-governmental organizations (association and foundation), which are not legally restricted by the type of political activities, unless they seek ‘public benefit status’ that allows for accessing the national cooperation fund.

However, there were critical amendments to two laws: the civil code and the non-profit act, which required NGOs to revise and modify their bylaws. The non-profit act laid out new conditions linking public benefit status to legally-prescribed state services. Due to a combination of complex interpretation of the new conditions, absent legal aid, and lack of awareness of the new requirements, only a small fraction of NGOs that previously had public benefit status reportedly met the deadline of May 2014.

The new civil code required NGOs to amend specific details in their statutes once again, with a grace period of March 2016. The procedure to register an NGO is reported to be lengthy, often involving several rounds of requests by the courts for modifications. The prosecutor’s office, which oversees the legality of civil society’s work – regularly appeals court decisions. According to legal experts, re-registration to obtain the public benefit status takes on average 6-8 months, and for some NGOs it has taken up to 16 months. Although the amended non-profit act foresaw the introduction of a simplified electronic registration system, it was not yet operational at the time of this visit (while business enterprises have already been using simplified online registration). Furthermore, regulations are considered by civil society as unnecessarily bureaucratic and stringent.

I urge the Government to assist civil society organisations in their attempts to comply with new laws by providing them with legal aid and introducing a simple electronic registration system. I further recommend the Government to make registrations more simple, non-onerous and expeditious and adopt ‘notification procedure’, by which associations are automatically granted legal personality as soon as the authorities are notified by the founders that an organization was created. The Government should avoid adopting new laws that would require previously registered associations to re-register.

What I have learnt during the visit indicates that the situation of civil society in Hungary has worsened in the last several years. Besides the more rigid legal environment, the financial sustainability of NGOs, their ability to assert their interests, the underlying infrastructure servicing civil society, general public’s opinion of human rights defenders, and the supporter base of NGOs have all reportedly changed for the worse compared to previous times.

Furthermore, authorities have effectively sought to restrict the work of civil society and increase supervision through such indirect means as investigations on funding, increased auditing, new internet laws and increased media campaigns stigmatising human rights defenders.

Nearly every defender and representative of civil society I have met raised alarm about the deeply regrettable targeting of the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation (composed of Őkotàrs, Autonomia, Demnet and the Kàrpàtok foundation), which managed the ‘Norwegian NGO Fund’ and other NGOs that benefitted from it. Since August 2013, Őkotàrs and 13 other NGOs receiving European Economic Area (EEA) grants have been stigmatised by newspapers as entities “serving foreign interests”. From April to July 2014, senior government officials from the Prime Minister’s Office called the NGOs “party-dependent, cheating nobodies” and “paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests”.  They called for the NGO Fund to be suspended. A number of beneficiary organisations (mostly those working on human rights, women’s rights organisations and watchdogs) were disturbingly blacklisted as ‘dirty 13’ by authorities.

Subsequently, the Government Control Office (KEHI) began to investigate those NGOs and their financed projects. Since KEHI’s mandate extends only to the use of Hungarian public money and the NGO Fund was financed by EEA, the legality of its audits has been questioned. Moreover, KEHI requested that various documents be handed over, but NGOs refused to comply with those requests that demanded names and personal details of their volunteers and participants in their past events.

On 8 September 2014, in a chilling message to civil society, police officers carried out raids in the offices of Őkotárs and Demnet, confiscating their files and computer servers. The raids were found to be unlawful by courts later in January 2015. KEHI also requested the prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings against the targeted NGOs, despite the fact that external auditing carried out at the request of Norway revealed no irregularities. Even if no breaches of law have been found after the wide-ranging investigation, senior government officials continued to publicly denounce Őkotárs for carrying out its activities in an unlawful manner.

After extensive discussions with representatives of the affected NGOs, KEHI and other government offices, I am concerned about reported breaches of due process. There was clearly no presumption of innocence assumed on the part of the Government, with senior government officials showing openly biased approach against those NGOs and stigmatising them in the media. KEHI’s official website portal only cited news articles that portrayed the NGOs in negative terms, even though it was legally obliged to remain objective in its investigation. And until now, KEHI failed to formally convey the findings of its investigation with the NGOs and publicly announce it closed.

During the meetings with KEHI and other government officials, I was informed that the investigations have now ended, and they have found no violations of the law committed by any NGO. Government officials also admitted the investigation was ‘political’, and that the enormous amount of time and resources spent on scrutinizing civil society in vain could have been directed to unearthing serious white-collar crime in public offices. I am concerned about the harm of the public stigmatisation on the reputation of those NGOs. It is regrettable that there was no public apology for breaches in due process or admission by the Government that the NGOs were proven to be innocent.

With regard to the future cycle of the Norwegian NGO Fund, I was reassured by the Norwegian Government that sustainable funding to independent civil society will be continued in the next funding period of 2014-2021.

  1. d) Freedom of assembly

The Hungarian law provides guarantees for the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Demonstrations do not require obtaining a police permit, but organizers must inform police of a planned assembly in a public place at least three days in advance. The law authorizes police to prohibit any gathering, if it seriously endangers the peaceful operation of representative bodies or courts or if it is not possible to provide for alternate routes for traffic. A decision to prohibit a public demonstration is open for judicial review. For example, the refusal of peaceful demonstration in front of Prime-Minister’s residence was found unlawful by the court on 4 July 2015.

However, I have heard testimonies that demonstrations by human rights activists promoting the rights of Roma and LGBTI communities are held in the climate of fear and are strictly controlled for safety reasons. Those defenders cannot comprehend why authorities could not take preventive measures to address threats arising from far-right extremists, rather than treat them as source of public insecurity.

There have been also concerns raised about excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the counterterrorism centre against protesting migrants and journalists observing those protests on 16 September 2015. And more recently, I have received reports of indirect intimidation of teachers and trade unionists from Miskolc, who planned to organise a national protest in Budapest on 13 February. Some of the teachers who wanted to participate in the protests were advised by officials to re-consider and police allegedly was asking questions of individuals about their plans to take part in the demonstration.

I urge the Government to ensure protection of defenders who peacefully assemble from individuals or groups of individuals, including agents-provocateurs and counter-demonstrators, who aim at disrupting or dispersing such assemblies. I further urge the Government to ensure that restrictions to peaceful assembly do not impair the essence of the right, are prescribed by law, are proportionate and ‘necessary in a democratic society’, and still allow demonstrations to take place within ‘sight and sound’ of its object and target audience.

Access to justice

A series of legal and constitutional changes have undermined access to justice for human rights defenders in Hungary. For example, access to the Constitutional Court was radically limited by scrapping the previously robust system of actio popularis, which allowed any human rights defender to bring the case to the Court on issues of broader public concern.

The fourth amendment to the constitution of 2013 drastically limited the jurisdiction of the Court, repealing all of the decisions made by the Court before 1 January 2012. As a result, all previous precedents of the Court are not allowed to be invoked in new cases and there no longer judiciary review of laws related to the central budget and taxation issues. The constructional changes banned the Court from reviewing constitutional amendments for substantive conflicts with constitutional principles, a measure which allowed the government to re-introduce through a constitutional amendment the proposals that had been previously struck down by the Court as unconstitutional. The substantively weakened Court is only allowed to review procedural validity of new amendments.

Furthermore, by lowering the retirement age for ordinary judges from 70 to 62, the government managed to remove almost all of the courts’ presidents. The former Constitutional Court found this legislation unconstitutional and contrary to the independence of the judiciary. A new National Judicial Office was established with the power to replace the retiring judges and to name new ones, as well as to reassign specific cases from one court to another.

Out of concern for the situation in the country, the European Parliament adopted a text on 16 December 2015 about the situation in Hungary as a follow up to its resolution of 10 June 2015, calling on the European Commission to initiate ‘rule of law framework’ procedures, a tool designed to tackle emerging systemic threats to the rule of law in an EU member state.

Notwithstanding the above, I have heard many testimonies from defenders indicating their confidence in the overall independence of the judiciary, which continues to provide remedy to violations of their rights and of those individuals who they represent. In this context and given the increasing litigation facing human rights defenders, there is a general agreement among those individuals who I have spoken about the woeful lack of legal assistance. This is particularly the case because of general fear among lawyers to take human rights and sensitive cases for fear of retaliation from the government. I recommend that the Government allocates budgetary resources to ensure independent legal assistance to human rights defenders. I also urge the Government to strengthen the judiciary and make sure that it can operate independently and effectively, as weaknesses in the judicial system and flaws in the legal framework deprive defenders of adequate access to seek justice.

Effective protection policy and mechanisms for human rights defenders

In Hungary, there are no specific policies or mechanism to protect human rights defenders from attacks, threats or harassment. Several testimonies heard during my visit show that some of the most vulnerable human rights defenders, namely those working on migration and Roma would benefit greatly from such protection.
In recent years, several States have developed specific national mechanisms to protect defenders through laws, action policies and mechanisms in consultation with national and international human rights organizations. The work has been underpinned by provisions from the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. I recommend that the Government of Hungary considers establishing a national mechanism on protecting human rights defenders, in consultation with civil society organizations. The national mechanism should also include specific measures to ensure prompt and independent investigation of all violations against defenders, and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators regardless of their status. It should also ensure access to just and effective remedies, including appropriate compensation. I remain available to the Government for any advisory support it may require in this connection.

During the visit, I have heard frequent concerns that human rights has become a ‘political vocation’ and NGOs are often perceived and labeled as ‘political’ entities by government officials, drawing strong negative counter-attacks on critical views. Senior government officials have described NGOs as ‘paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests’, which encouraged authorities to target human rights organizations through surprise financial audits, criminal investigations and public shaming, thus curtailing their activities. I am seriously concerns by the frequency and tenacity of those political statements, which many perceive as an attempt to silence dissenting voices that speak out human rights.
I urge the Government to draw a clear boundary between political debate among political parties and social dialogue with civil society pertaining to the promotion of human rights, and refrain from conflating the two discourses with a view to delegitimizing independent organizations and stifling critical views.

Specific groups of human rights defenders exposed to risks

Not all human rights defenders see their situation as particularly exposed to risk, besides the general stigmatization and shrinking civil society space. However, some human rights defenders face particularly serious challenges that, in some instances, appear to amount to violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as of their legitimate right to defend human rights.

Those groups include women human rights defenders who are exposed to risks both as defenders and women, especially those who promote sexual and reproductive rights. Some of them face multiple and aggravated forms of discrimination, as well as visible and invisible forms of violence that prevents them from carrying out their work in a safe and enabling environment.

LGBTI defenders sometimes face difficult situations and are often subject to social prejudice than others. For example, the 2015 Budapest Pride Parade took place behind a caged police barricade, where activists still experienced threats and hostility from other observers.

Defenders promoting economic, social and cultural rights and environmentalist organizations are sometimes labelled as anti-development when they oppose developmental projects that have detrimental impact on the rights of the local community. Some of those defenders are sued by companies and intimidated by authorities for raising questions about factories or industries, which pose environmental risk.

Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing corruption, fraud, and mismanagement, and in preventing disasters that arise from negligence or wrongdoing. However, there is little protection granted to whistleblowers, beyond the mere existence of a law on whistleblower protection. Most whistleblowers have been subject to harassment and retaliation, including loss of employment and becoming blacklisted for future employment. The media portrays them in negative terms by shunning and shaming whistleblowers as trouble-makers or foreign agents. This has sent a chilling effect will deter others from denouncing corruption or misconduct by public officials. Those who have suffered from retaliation have sought reinstatement and compensation through the courts, but testimonies received show that a positive outcome is far from guaranteed. The Ombudsman’s function seems to be restricted to receiving reports and forwarding them to competent authorities.

I urge the Government to strengthen legal and policy framework to protect whistleblowers. I recommend reinforcing the existing legislation and establishing a strong and independent national whistleblower agency that would have the power to grant legal protection and support whistleblowers.

During the visit, it has become apparent that defenders that are excessively at risk are Roma activists due to widespread and long-term climate of xenophobia, leading to direct physical threats and intimidation. Several testimonies indicate severe threats or physical attacks against Roma activists throughout the country. In Miskolc, the Roma community and their leaders face a strong rejection by the majority of residents and the local municipality. About 450 Roma residents on the outskirts of Miskolc were “put at risk of forced eviction and possible homelessness” in May 2014. Residents were threatened with eviction in August 2014, as part of the local government’s efforts to “eliminate slums” under a government-sponsored law adopted in May 2014.

Human rights defenders and grass-roots activists working on the rights of asylum-seekers are those who are facing acute risks of threats to their person and their families due to the increased politicization and criminalization of their work. I have received several reports of direct threats, anonymous phone calls and text messages, hacking of personal social media and trolling on the social media.

National human right institution

The previous system of four Ombudsmen was replaced by a parliamentary commissioner for fundamental rights, which decreased the level of protection in relation to certain rights and weakened the institution. The former Ombudsman’s mandate was terminated before the end of their term of office, which was found unlawful by the European Court of Justice in April 2014.

The former Data Protection Ombudsman was transformed into a quasi-governmental authority, which does not comply with the requirement of independence. The previous Ombudsman was elected by the Parliament for a six-year period, while the head of the new authority is appointed exclusively by the Prime Minister for a nine-year period.

The Ombudsman was recently also designated as the National Preventative Mechanism, however the budget of the Office was not increased, hindering its effective operation. Despite the recent accreditation of an (A) as compliant with the Paris Principles, recent amendments to the law and the lack of enforceability of his recommendations have weakened the effectiveness of the Ombudsman’s mandate. In the same vein, the continuous lack of funding could hamper his independence and his capacity to act as a strong and effective mechanism.

In order to ensure the credibility of the work of the Ombudsman, the Government should increase allocated budget to the Office and take measures to ensure adequate follow-up and implementation of his recommendations.

I also recommend that the Ombudsman expands the scope of his activities to be an effective and visible focal point for human rights defenders. He could thus be in a unique position to provide protection for human rights defenders, as it is inherent in his mandate. Human rights defenders could be considered as a specific group at risk and, as such, fall within his mandate. This protection could be offered in a number of ways, including through formal complaints mechanisms and protection programs; advocacy and awareness raising; offering public support when violations are committed against defenders; and capacity building. Protection could also be offered with more specific and direct means, including acting on individual complaints; visiting defenders in detention; and providing legal aid in the context of violations against defenders.

Non-State actors

It has become apparent that non-State actors have frequently taken part in the attacks or threats against human rights defenders. According to the international human rights law, the State is responsible to protect human rights defenders from detrimental action by non-State actors aimed at intimidating or threatening defenders and for failing to carry out effective investigations into such cases.

The media landscape is dominated by outlets closely affiliated or loyal to the Government, a phenomenon that has developed over the past decade and bolstered since 2010. Media laws allow political interference in the editorial content of public broadcast channels. Freedom of the press has been severely limited by the laws that restrict the opportunity for diversity of service and established a powerful control mechanism to strictly regulate broadcast, print and online media. This concentration of media in the hands of the Government seriously curtails free access to media by human rights defenders and civil society organizations. As a result, they have little media coverage to raise their concerns, express dissenting views or defend their human rights positions.

I have heard several cases of verbal attacks, physical attacks and threats by far-rights extremists that harbour ultra-nationalist views, mainly targeting members or volunteers of organizations dedicated to migrant’s rights and Roma issues.

I have also met with environmental defenders that pointed out increased criminal defamation litigations by companies, following their actions to protect the right to environmental rights. Local media usually portrays environmentalists and watchdogs as obstructing development.

Community of human rights defenders

I have met with numerous brave and courageous human rights defenders working on different issues during the course of my visit. Those who help asylum seekers, support Roma communities, defend the rights of LGBTI and women, environmentalists, lawyers and social workers. However, the general feeling is that apart of some bigger organizations, some defenders can feel isolated and not sufficiently inter-connected. It appears that NGOs are not strongly embedded into society, and have not gained sufficient support from the broader society for their work, which can undermine their ability to gain support and mobilise.

Similarly, the contraction of available funding has over the years resulted in a greater competition among NGOs, which have become increasingly aware of overlapping projects in the same community and with similar objectives and results. In the work of human rights, collaboration is crucial. A single organization will never have the resources or all the skills necessary to ensure social change and support a global movement of human rights defenders. I recommend civil society organisations in Hungary to establish national and local networks of support, develop and strengthen coalitions with shared objectives, and reinforce partnerships in fund-raising.

It is striking to see how the lack of access to funding can weaken NGOs. Several organizations decided to close their offices, discontinue programmes, and lay off staff due to insufficient or unsustainable funding. In several occasions, NGOs providing community or social services have seen their contract simply discontinued or interrupted, after they published information or testimonies perceived as hostile to the Government. As the access to EU funding is channelled through government-controlled agency, the discontinuation of funding is used as a tool to silence dissent or to encourage self-censorship.

I recommends to civil society organisation to establish stronger links to European and international networks in order to compensate the shortage of independent funding. I call for concrete measures to be put in place to prevent governmental agencies to interrupt or misuse EU funding to favour organizations that are closely affiliated to the Government. I urge the European Union to examine carefully the impact of channelling its financial resources through governmental agencies on the weakening of independent civil society organizations and explore alternative ways to directly fund those organizations.

Recommendations

We need to continue our efforts to raise public awareness of human rights among the general public and foster a spirit of dialogue and cooperation in society.

I would like to conclude by reiterating my preliminary recommendations to various stakeholders.

I recommend that the Government:

  • Mainstream human rights into the institutional and policy framework, including by adopting a national action plan on human rights with clear and specific goals and indicators, taking into account recommendations by International and European human rights mechanisms.
  • Ensure that human rights defenders can conduct their work in a conducive legal, institutional and administrative framework.
  • Refrain from criminalizing defenders’ peaceful and legitimate activities, and instead support the work of independent civil society, whatever disagreements may be.
  • Review and abolish all administrative and legislative provisions that restrict the rights of defenders, and ensure that domestic legislation respects basic principles relating to international human rights law and standards.
  • Formulate a clear policy recognizing the indispensable role of human rights defenders and ensuring their protection.
  • Address any attempts to stigmatize human rights defenders, whether by public officials or non-State actors.
  • Strengthen the role and independence of the Ombudsman and reinforce his financial autonomy. Consult Ombudsman in the process of developing human rights protection mechanisms and in particular in the establishment of a protection programme for human rights defenders.
  • Take measures to ensure adequate follow-up and implementation of the Ombudsman’s recommendations.
  • Refrain from shrinking the scope of public interest information and the accessibility of such data to civil society.
  • Make registrations of associations more simple, non-onerous and expeditious and adopt ‘notification procedure’.
  • Avoid adopting new laws that would require previously registered associations to re-register.
  • Allocate budgetary resources to ensure independent legal assistance to human rights defenders, and strengthen the judiciary by ensuring it can operate independently and effectively.
  • Ensure protection of defenders who peacefully assemble from individuals or groups of individuals, who aim at disrupting or dispersing such assemblies.
  • Ensure that restrictions to peaceful assembly do not impair the essence of the right, are prescribed by law, are proportionate and ‘necessary in a democratic society’, and still allow demonstrations to take place within ‘sight and sound’ of its object and target audience.
  • Pay close attention and follow through reports of threats and attacks against human rights defenders. A policy for effective criminal investigations should be defined and investigative working methods should be revised.
  • Establish an independent body to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and to supervise the appointment, promotion and regulation of the profession in accordance with international human rights standards. Judges should be ensured tenure in order to exercise their functions in an independent manner.
  • I recommend reinforcing the existing legislation and establishing a strong and independent national whistleblower agency that would have the power to grant legal protection and support whistleblowers.
  • Review the successive amendments to Act on Freedom of Information in order to guarantee a free and uncontrolled access to information to all human rights defenders and journalists. Withdraw the draft legislation on the National Post.
  • Ensure that both public and private actors, including companies, respect human rights defenders and investigate instances where non-State actors commit violations against human rights defenders, leading to prosecution of the responsible and compensation to the victims.
  • Establishing a national mechanism on protecting human rights defenders, in consultation with civil society organizations.

I recommend that the Ombudsman:

  • Expand the scope of Ombudsman’s activities by serving as public focal point for human rights defenders.

I recommend that human rights defenders:

  • Develop and strengthen national and local platforms or networks aimed at protecting defenders and facilitating coordination.
  • Become more informed of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and publicise it broadly in society.
  • Make full use of United Nations special procedures and other international and European human rights mechanisms, when reporting on human rights violations.

I recommend that non-state actors:

  • Political parties, media, private companies and far-right groups should refrain from organising or participating in the attacks, threats or stigmatisation of human rights defenders.
  • Public and private media should grant and facilitate free access to their publications and broadcasts for defenders and civil society organizations to publicise their human rights work.

I recommend that international community:

  • Intensify efforts to empower and support human rights defenders and civil society organisations.
  • Support dialogue and encourage collaboration between the Government of Hungary and civil society organisations in order to ensure human rights in institution-building, development and other programmes and ensure the protection of human rights defenders in these programmes.
  • EU should review its policy on funding civil society organizations exclusively only through the state budget and develop additional and alternative sources of funding ensure free and non-politicized access to funding for all civil society organizations.
February 18, 2016
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Guest
London Calling! The report is OK as far as it goes – but it’s hardly a revelation. Eva’s blog has been a litany of it all over the years – it didn’t need a ‘rapporteur’ to confirm any of it – it has been in the public domain for as long. What is missing is the treatment of religions to be able to practice in an equal society – for me it’s a glaring omission. One hardly needs an ‘expert’ to document it. However it is all in one place for the EU – but we can still expect the usual dilatory action over such a serious breach of freedoms in a civil society. A democracy it is not. The Rapporteur constantly makes recommendations to the government – but it has the government itself that is oppressing the organisations – mainly the thug Janos Lazar – so they’ll just put it in their out trays and say yader yader yader. The principle problem is that the government is a law unto itself – the law is what it says it is, which can be expediently changed at the drop of a hat. The Data ‘Protection’ Ombudsman is worse than useless.… Read more »
Observer
Guest

And after all these materials, incl. the Tavares, the Vencie Council, etc. reports key politicians still don’t want to recognize the ugly truth staring them in the face, lest it may disturb their petty political games.

Commissioner Vera Jourova (Czech) recently in her wisdom stated that there are no treats to democracy in Hungary.
In a way she is right, there is already no democracy to be threatened.

Guest

Good to see Mr. Forst’s extensive experience producing an extensive detailed write up of the human rights shenanigans going on in the country. In a nutshell, the UN special ‘rapporteur’ is saying in stark black and white that the country is run by an autocratic few and the multitude of laws work against the people and their rights. And as to the ‘foundations of democracy’ existing allegedly in the country , even he can see the laws slowly eroding them.

After reading Mr. Forst’s indictment one can come very easy to see the truth of the adage that the more corrupt a state the more laws it has. Future legal scholars have much to learn from the Orbanic lawyering of the country. In it is a primer on how to identify the techniques of dismantling a democracy and rights with it. And so the slow death goes on. And the democracy destroyers watch with keen eyes.

Live long and prosper
Guest
Live long and prosper

I’d give him an F (for feeble).

petofi
Guest

@ Ll&p

Did you get out of your hot bath to deliver that witticism?

Guest

This is very fine, as far as it goes, if it were only a first step.

But unless the UN was willing to deploy Security Council sanctions with teeth to force Hungary to improve its human rights performance, none of these observations would have any effect whatsoever on the actual human rights situation in Hungary.

Anyway, given that there are plenty of much worse offenders around the world that Hungary can point to, it would be the easiest thing in the world for the Hungarians to trivialize and relativize Monsieur Frost’s fine report, which I am sure would be thoroughly detailed and substantiated in its final edition.

In any case, even if it, or perhaps one of its successors ever got as far as the Security Council, Russia would be absolutely certain to veto any sanctions resolution against Hungary.

So in the end, this fine report is really just a “nesze semmi, fogd meg jól” (here is nothing, grab it tight) gesture from an outraged international human rights community that however is in no position to change anything on the ground in Hungary.

Guest

Correction: “Forst” instead of “Frost.”

Guest

Correction: “however thoroughly detailed and substantiated it might be in its final edition” instead of “which I am sure would be thoroughly detailed and substantiated in its final edition.”

Guest

I would like to add however that I am of course fully aware that in more civilized circumstances than those that prevail in Hungary today, getting thrust into the limelight like this as focus of a profoundly disapproving international public attention, would shame any basically decent government to take urgent action to correct its ways.

But Orbán & Co. have the morals of a village chicken thief or that of an alley cat, neither of whom could be regarded by any stretch of the imagination as either civilized or decent.

Consequently, for Orbán & Co. criticism of this sort is like water of a duck’s back.

Hence the point I was making in my post above.

petofi
Guest

@ ambalint

I beg to differ: ‘criticism of this sort’ may well be off a duck’s back as far as Orban & co. are concerned…but whatever decent elements remain in-country will note the measured, thorough,
criticism and will be moved to consider how long the country should maintain such Orban’s untenable stance.

I certainly think that this report has significance. The slow wheels of civilized justice have begun to grind, and it will not
be easy to stop until a just conclusion will be arrived at, regardless of how long it takes.

petofi
Guest

(whoever said this setup is better than the one previous?)

edit: drop ‘such’ before ‘Orban’s’…

bimbi
Guest

Just a small technical comment. I note several people have been frustrated with the absence of an “Edit” function, or one that works. May I suggest that you write out your comment in Word, read it and edit for yourself and then copy-and-paste it into the comment box? This way you can edit out typos y’self – and even take time to look up in your favourite dictionary the difference between “lose” and “loose”…

Guest

I have no argument whatsoever that this report has significance.

My only point is that given what Hungarians are like, in particular their present “government,” I don’t see any likelihood of any actual impact by this report on the ground realities in Hungary.

At the same time, I sincerely hope that I am wrong on this, and I am perfectly open to argument to the contrary, but frankly, knowing what Hungarians are like and what Orbán & Co. are like, I am not holding my breath.

Guest

Correction: “by this report on the on-ground realities” instead of “by this report on the ground realities.”

And you are right that this newer version of WordPress does not seem to be materially better than the older version was. I gave up trying to register as a member and thereby get access to the edit function, because every time I reopen the blog, I am asked to register again, and even after registering, the edit function does not always work. Simpler to remain just a guest and put in any edits or corrections after a post as and when needed.

bimbi
Guest

Just a small technical comment. I note several people have been frustrated with the absence of an “Edit” function, or one that works. May I suggest that you write out your comment in Word, read it and edit for yourself and then copy-and-paste it into the comment box? This way you can edit out typos y’self – and even take time to look up in your favourite dictionary the difference between “lose” and “loose”…

Guest

You know it’s apparent to me Mr. Forst is the UN weatherman for Hungary. Unfortunately the thing about weather is usually everybody talks about it but does nothing about it. At least the fellow is making it evident by documenting his work to the world community that winds are blowing. Outlook? Obvious the Magyar barometer is falling.

Guest

“Consequently, for Orbán & Co. criticism of this sort is like water of a duck’s back.”

Spot on.

Like you, Mike, I think they’ll ignore it and just carry on.

Damage limitation by stealth.

Guest

and where did the Tavares report end up? …….Precisely!

Guest

And what happened to the Helsinki Committed?………. Precisely!

Guest

And the Kim Lane Scheppele analysis?…………. Precisely!

Bowen
Guest

You forgot the OSCE report on the ‘free but not fair’ 2014 elections.

Guest

Yes! Thanks.

Guest

We are in complete agreement.

Observer
Guest

We are and I will repeat:

That after all these materials, incl. the Venice Council, etc. reports, key politicians still don’t want to recognize the ugly truth staring them in the face, lest it may disturb their petty political games.

Commissioner Vera Jourova (Czech) recently in her wisdom stated that there are no treats to democracy in Hungary.
In a way she is right, there is already no democracy to be threatened.

Pavel Ponomarev
Guest
It reminds me of the Goldstone Report – deeply unfair both. In 9 days, no doubt all he did was meet with the “representatives” of the various organizations and then wrote down their complaints. On what does he base his statement that the inspections of these organizations are unwarranted? Of course, harassment of these kinds of organization is possible but it is also possible that they represent a front for various – mostly foreign – interests. As such, they would seem to be legitimate targets of additional scrutiny. As regards 1) denial of public funds and 2) access to tv, on what basis should these organizations get this? Why should Hungarian taxpayers (or any other taxpayers, US included) fund somebody else’s political agenda? The stench of privilege percolates here. With one hand, you want the government to give you hand outs and air time, with another you criticize the same democratically elected government? If you want to criticize and you have no foreign backing, fine but put your own money, where your mouth is. The mindset of these people, their sense of entitlement and righteousness won’t win them any friends. Orban got elected and keeps getting elected. You may not… Read more »
Guest

“Whatever happens, Orban is winning. Orban will win again. He is much smarter than his opponents. He is just a winner type, not a loser type. If you are a winnner you vote for Fidesz, simple as that. And if you are a fidesznik you are happy because you feel yourself a winner. It’s good to be a winner. And Fidesz is a party of winners.
Who would vote for a party of the losers, right?”

Guest

@Pavel Ponomarev
Today 12:24 pm

I think the real issue is the nature of liberal versus illiberal democracy.

In a liberal democracy minority opinion is respected, protected and indeed more often than not government funded, with constitutional checks and balances to make sure this actually happens.

An illiberal democracy on the other hand is essentially a dictatorship of the majority, with an absence of constitutional checks and balances to make sure that minority opinion uncongenial to the majority is effectively locked out of political discourse and kept bereft of political power.

But of course not all minority opinion is necessarily uncongenial to the majority. In Hungary, for instance, the Jew-hating and Roma-hating Jobbik and the Fidesz toady LMP are of course perfectly congenial political formations as far as the majority Fidesz/KDNP opinion is concerned.

In the end it all boils down to one’s mentality, cultural proclivities and political comfort zones. As they say, “izlések és pofonok különbözők” (different strokes for different folks).

Pavel Ponomarev prefers illiberal nationalism and considers liberal cosmopolitanism an intolerable blight and affront; ambal prefers liberal cosmopolitanism and considers illiberal nationalism an intolerable blight and affront. Not much room for compromise here.

Guest

Correction: “ambalint” instead of “ambal” in last para.

weknow
Guest
There is only one Hungary in all of the world. Hungarians do not tell others how to live in the over 200 other administrative regions of this world. So why should the majority of Hungarians not run their country? Ambalint’s logic would result in his nose being stuck in every other country’s business – an endearing show of self-esteem and navel gazing, no doubt – sparkled with a heavy dose of racially charged remarks. Perhaps, Ambalint it is you who should change your “comfort zone” and not the vast majority of Hungarians? I doubt the thought has occurred to you – perhaps because these Hungarians seem to make you so very uncomfortable in the first place. You are (of course) right that a dictatorship of the majority may not be great for the minority. However, what you in effect propose is a dictatorship of the minority – or what most normal people simply call “a dictatorship” and the Hungarians had that worked through already. What all of this points to is that anyone will try to rationalize their position but in the end it seems that what you say is driven solely by who you are. That’s sad but something… Read more »
Guest

The preliminary report by Michel Forst on the situation of Hungarian human rights defenders is important and timely. It is aimed at a different and possibly more influential readership than the HS aficionados. Those who think that they could have written a more complete and well phrased report should just go ahead. There are not enough such reports in circulation.

The Fidesz news monopoly will either dismiss this not so feeble report as the work of a Soros hireling, or not mention it at all. Anyway it will open the eyes of some people who have slept until now.

tappanch
Guest

Re: human rights & refugees

I do not like (this is an understatement) the current Merkel & EU approach.

They are squeamish about turning back asylum applicants themselves.
So they beg dictator Erdogan to do the dirty job for them.
In return, they plan to give lots of money, plus they will be silent about
the human rights abuses in Turkey.

They threaten to withhold EU money from Hungary NOT because this country
became a dictatorship, but because dictator Orban does not want to participate in the redistribution of migrants/refugees, who were invited to Germany by Ms Merkel.

If you are nice to us in foreign policy, you can do whatever you want inside your country, this is the mainstream European approach.

PS
EU cancelled the sanctions against dictator Lukashenko and 169 of his cronies three days ago.

petofi
Guest

I’m afraid I have to agree in this regard. Merkel and the political correctness brigade of the EU have been trapped by their own petard…otherwise known as the Christian predilection for charity.
I saw this in action particularly in African where the wiley Africans knew exactly what notes to hit with the visiting leaders of Christian europe.

Guest

As I keep harping on, well-intentioned, but heedless compassion without a measure common sense can easily turn self-destructive, and unfortunately by the time the political correctness brigade realizes what they wrought, it might well be too late to turn things around, because the damage is done, and all is well and truly f’d up.

As they say, the road to hell is paved by good intentions.

Guest

Correction: “a measure of common sense” instead of “a measure common sense.”

bimbi
Guest

Just a small technical comment. I note several people have been frustrated with the absence of an “Edit” function, or one that works. May I suggest that you write out your comment in Word, read it and edit for yourself and then copy-and-paste it into the comment box? This way you can edit out typos y’self – and even take time to look up in your favourite dictionary the difference between “lose” and “loose”…

zöld
Guest

The teachers are a bit upset, sure.

But teachers are by default fideszniks. This is not the US where teachers are held to be safe Democratic voters. In Hungary most are conservative people.

The teachers will never vote left again, they have had enough of the liberal BS about cocoa-safe computers and the obligation to embrace disruptive, aggressive almost-adults and their parents who beat up teachers.

Nobody is really worried within Fidesz, they are pros and know how to handle the teachers, who are amateurs in politics. This is their first time that they are upset and Orban’s apparatus has been perfecting its methods for over 25 years.

When the teachers will calm down they will go back and vote Fidesz again.

Nobody votes based on education policies etc. but based on identity, security, fear, pride, the feeling of strength etc. and only Fidesz can supply these.

Orban is strong and popular and beloved as ever and neither he nor his minions are worried the least bit. The teachers will be a piece of cake for the fideszniks.

http://index.hu/belfold/2016/02/19/a_fideszesek_kepviselok_is_megertik_a_tunteto_tanarismeroseiket/

Guest

zöld – You little rascal! You forgot to say Orban is winning! And is so so clever! And knows exactly………. Blah blah yader blah…..

You’ll not get paid…….

(With apologies to Observer!

Observer
Guest

charliech

Help yourself anytime.

We have to acknowledge Zöld’s certain sophistication in bringing up valid points, but still creating the Fidesz line impression and without the primitive slogans.

Guest

You are right. That is Hungary and Hungarians to a tee. Orbán & Co. are master manipulators who always get their way because the know exactly which buttons to push, when and how, in Hungarian heads.

Guest

Correction: “they know” instead of “the know.”

bimbi
Guest

Just a small technical comment. I note several people have been frustrated with the absence of an “Edit” function, or one that works. May I suggest that you write out your comment in Word, read it and edit for yourself and then copy-and-paste it into the comment box? This way you can edit out typos y’self – and even take time to look up in your favourite dictionary the difference between “lose” and “loose”…

Guest

@bimbi
Today 8:26 am

Good idea! :-)))

Why didn’t I think of that!

petofi
Guest

Zold~Another ‘basement boy’ on a day pass…

It’s to laugh: especially about the ‘worry’ over votes–as if such kind as Fidesz are would be worried about that technicality.

As Stalin said: “It’s not who votes…but who counts the votes!”

tappanch
Guest

Mr Matolcsy’s watermark head on a future 50,000 forint bill:

comment image

tappanch
Guest

The US has only two pending totalization agreements. One with Mexico, the other with Hungary.

https://www.socialsecurity.gov/international/status.html

Member

Gaussian Gargoyles

The frustration of democrats with the Orban depredations in Hungary is understandable, but their fatalism is neither warranted nor helpful.

I’ve looked for a suitable emotional analogy, and the closest recent one that comes to mind is Trump.

His vulgar, vicious antics are outrageous in much the way Orban’s are. Trump has money, Orban has power (and steals money). The styles are different, but the ethics are the same: nil. Both leave decent people dismayed that so many people can not only put up with it but embrace it, for so long.

Both are sad signs about the demography of decency in our times. But their support comes from the tail end of the normal distribution, meaner than the mean. And time’s tail is longer.

Le Pen was upended in France. Let’s see whether Trump gets bumped in the US.

Then comes the turn of Orban and his clan…

comment image

Guest

@Stevan Harnad
Today 8:26 am

–“The frustration of democrats with the Orban depredations in Hungary is understandable, but their fatalism is neither warranted nor helpful.”–

Explain.

But stick to the facts.

weknow
Guest

This is like holy trinity (but better) – where did you get this awesome picture?

tappanch
Guest

“Billions around L Mészáros’s head” by drMáriás

comment image

tappanch
Guest
winwinwin
Guest

If you are a winnner you vote for Fidesz, simple as that.

And if you are a fidesznik you are happy because you feel yourself a winner.

It’s good to be a winner.

And Fidesz is a party of winners.

Who would vote for a party of the losers, right?

http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20160219-fidesz-kdnp-jobbik-mszp-dk-tarki-vesztes-nyertes.html

Guest

“Whatever happens, Orban is winning. Orban will win again. He is much smarter than his opponents. He is just a winner type, not a loser type. If you are a winnner you vote for Fidesz, simple as that. And if you are a fidesznik you are happy because you feel yourself a winner. It’s good to be a winner. And Fidesz is a party of winners. Who would vote for a party of the losers, right?”

Guest

Fidesz gospel: Blessed are the winners.
Christian gospel: Blessed are the peacemakers.

webber
Guest

Blessed are the poor.

Observer
Guest

@winwin

Undoubtedly Orban and his cronies are winning – they are getting richer and richer. The rest are footing the bill, i.e. they are loosing, big time in all areas.

What are you paid Judas?

Istvan
Guest
The United Nations produces endless numbers of reports similar to the one Eva reviewed by United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst on Hungary. Forst, was the United Nations’ Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, from 2008 to 2013, he wrote a number of reports on the corruption of Haiti’s government and theft of aid money. Upon resigning this post for supposed personal reasons he stated to the UN that in Haiti: “I can not, and I do not want to hide my anxiety and disappointment at the developments in the fields of the Rule of Law and human rights.” He went on to say “impunity enjoyed by human rights violators undertaking violent acts,” he said, meant that “fear had returned and clear actions needed to be taken to show Haiti’s resolve to deal with this problem.” In other words he achieved nothing in Haiti, except he did pick up a check and express legitimate outrage which I suspect is worth something. Even though Forst is not a UN employee, he does get paid by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He will be off to Mexico shortly and will no doubt explain to the world… Read more »
Reality Check
Guest

Istvan you are confused – he did not release the report just a summary.

“oday, I will confine myself to some preliminary observations and recommendations on some of the main issues, which will be elaborated in more detail in the report once I review the materials and documents that I have gathered and been provided with. I will present my final report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in March 2017.”

So either you did not read it carefully or you are commenting on something you did not read.

And clearly before coming for the nine days he had plenty of time to explore the issue.

tappanch
Guest

In the December 2015 (un)employment report (published today) the Statistical Office failed to disclose the number of people employed abroad that are counted in the statistics to improve the Hungarian statistics. (It was about 110,000 the last time they disclosed it)

Dec 31, 2015 [2014]

Employed in enterprises: 1920.2 [1863.0]
Employed by the state: 693.0 [697.5]
Employed by non-profits: 96.2 [95.0]

Total without fostered workers: 2709.4 [2655.5]
Fostered workers: 201.5 [188.6]

Total 2910.9 [2844.1]

The other 7 million people are either retired, children, students, self-employed or outside the statistics.

The number of “fostered” workers (counted as employed) was declared to be 201.5 thousand.
http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_qli037.html

On the other hand, if we calculate their number from
http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xftp/gyor/ker/ker1512.html
knowing that the total without fostered workers is 2709.4
their number must have been 214.5 thousand.

Proof. (261100-247800)*2709.4/(247800-79800) = 214.4942

The net salary in Hungary was 600 euros a month officially. (189000/312)

petofi
Guest

? Net salary was 600 euros. Really? I’d bet against that.

tappanch
Guest

The year-end bonuses must be included in the net income

net monthly salary
09-2014: 158 736 <—–
10-2014: 163 343
11-2014: 172 409
12-2014: 178 300 <—-
01-2015: 161 963 <—-
02-2015: 160 714

09-2015: 167 236 <—–
10-2015: 172 504
11-2015: 182 891
12-2015: 189 026 <—–

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

So I should have said:
the net salary was 550 euros (10-2015), while the net income including year-end bonuses was 600 euros (12-2015)

tappanch
Guest

Let me emphasize these are the official net >>average and not >>median salaries.

Guest

Tappanch, is there any way to get at the distribution of these salaries?

Obviously in a skewed distribution the median is much lower than the mean (remember, I’m a mathematician …).

My neighbour works hard in the village kitchen, cooking for more than a hundred people (without a dish washing machine – unbelievable, they do the “meals on wheels”, obviously sick people there …).
She gets around 130 000 HUF a month – takes home after taxes etc around 80 000.

And the number of workers abroad included in the stats – when was that changed?

tappanch
Guest

@wolfi7777
A.
If I remember well, the EU statistical office has some finer picture of the salaries, but they are always many years behind.

The spread between the average and the median must be increasing since Orban took power in 2010.

A few times I also found articles estimating the median.

B.
A number of workers abroad is included in the employment numbers. The usually increasing number was disclosed first monthly, then quarterly, later sporadically.
But not this month.

Guest

The KSH has always included the ‘mysterious’ number of emigrants ever since the original head was sacked and ‘Gabriella’ installed – Orban’s place(wo)man. Three years ago? Their integrity is shot to pieces – cf the British Office of National Statistics.

Guest

Thank you both! Maybe some day the “real” numbers will be available.
I don’t get it:
All the Hungarians I know are complaining about their finances – but it’s never the government’s fault …
Even though they know about the ongoing corruption…

Observer
Guest

How is the income of those working abroad included in the KSZH stats? If their no is 150 – 200k their income would affect notably the figures.

tappanch
Guest

Good point. When this number was still disclosed, it added 4-5% to the number of people employed inside Hungary. “Fostered workers” add another 7-8%. Workers abroad distort the average upward, fostered workers downward. In the gross income, KSH reports the average salaries with and also without fostered workers. For the net salaries, they report only one number. I hope the reported net salary includes the fostered workers. but I do not know for sure.

webber
Guest

Most people do not get year-end bonuses.

Guest

@Stevan Harnad:

What a funny coincidence your mentioning Trump. Did you read about the Pope and what he said about Trump on the way back from Mexico?

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.

Wonder what the “Christian” party KDNP here in Hungary will say …

Istvan
Guest
You know Trump is not a stupid man. First he shoots back at the Pope saying Trump Francis’ comments were “disgraceful.” He went on: “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he said in statement. Trump added that the government in Mexico, where Francis spent the past five days, has “made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.” Then Trump tries to quiet things down. By Thursday evening, Trump was saying: “I don’t like fighting with the Pope,” Trump said at a GOP town hall in South Carolina hosted by CNN. “I like his personality; I like what he represents.” Trump called the Pope a “wonderful guy” and blamed the day’s drama on the press. So he got out two messages, one is the Pope has nothing to say about my country’s borders, and two the Pope is a nice guy. This will play well with white Catholics in the USA. According to Pew Research, while US Catholics overall are more likely than Protestants to say that immigrants strengthen society (53% vs. 42%), much of this difference can be attributed to the larger share of Catholics who are Hispanic.… Read more »
Member
I have two addendums. 1.) The recent journey of Petike, the Minister of Trade to the US went largely unnoticed (Texas, Dallas and NY). Only BBJ reported on it briefly otherwise you had to learn about it from the Hungarian press. A typical alibi or “kamu” trip (Eva used this word the other day). The only “US” official he d’ met was Jeffrey D. Feltman, UN USG for Political Affairs (who was posted once to Budapest temporarily at the end of the 90’s otherwise he is a known US diplomat for Near Eastern policies). The Hungarian press release claims many things but I am sure he was trying to fend off UN criticism contained in the above end of mission report. I eagerly believe that he was trying to sell the “second line of defense” idea in the name of V-4 (?) and teach a lesson or two about immigration to the innocent UN officials that they should take their job more seriously. BTW, from the US Petike traveled straight to Moscow. PS: I have never seen a high-ranking official of any country who has paid an “official” visit to the US (as claimed) and who would not have met… Read more »
Guest

Totally OT – or not:

Hungary is no1 in the world!

Actually it’s that picture of a child being passed through the Hungarian fence which won its creator an award:
The 2016 Photo of the Year is a haunting nighttime image of refugees climbing through razor wire over the the Hungarian-Serbian border, taken by photographer Warren Richardson. This year, according to organizers, 82,951 photos were submitted for judging, made by 5,775 photographers from 128 different countries.
http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2016/02/winners-of-the-2016-world-press-photo-contest/463431/

And if you’re kind of depressed by this – here’s a Hungarian site with political jokes:
http://grocceni.com/vicc/vicc0356.html

BritinBudapest
Guest

This is a good, long, meaningful list of things that the Hungarian government should do. But its from the UN, and I have no doubt that the government will simply ignore it. Is there any follow up? Is there any accountability by the government? It also struck me that it would be great to have a summary of this, even though I realise it is already meant to be a summary – it is long and technical, and too many people simply do not know the situation here.

wpDiscuz