Attila Mraz: Human rights defenders in Hungary have their work cut out

December 23, 2015
Attila Mraz works for the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) on political participatory rights, while also completing a PhD in political theory focusing on the required conditions for a State to be qualified ‘democratic’. Talking with the International Service for Human Rights in the series Defenders Profiles (25 September 2015) about the reasons for his commitment to political participatory rights he said: ‘Democratic rights fascinate me because they are such an important feature of human life – we have to live together and solve certain problems despite having diverse perspectives. Political participatory rights provide necessary guarantees for equal and fair participation which facilitates the resolution of different societal views – that is what I care about.’


Since 2012 a new constitution and several key laws have been passed which have led to a deterioration of political rights in Hungary. Attila explained that the changes made  prevented the electronic media (TV and radio channels) from accepting monetary compensation for political advertisements. This was actually a means to  silence political opposition campaigns. Commercial stations had indeed no incentive to broadcast their material and as a result ‘voters did not have a reasonable chance of being informed about alternatives’ during 2014 elections.

Risks and challenges facing HRDs in Hungary. A wide number of restrictions are being imposed to HRDs and NGOs in Hungary:

‘Some HRDs in Hungary, especially those working for foundations that distribute foreign funding, have been subject to police raids and criminal investigations. More generally, HRDs working for major watchdog NGOs, including the HCLU, have been subject to unlawful investigations by Government agencies and often face stigmatisation by the Government, being labelled as “serving foreign interests”.’ Attila explained that administrative burdens and harassment by authorities increased the HCLU’s workload, requiring capacity-building and increased fund-raising efforts. see also:

‘The general systematic deterioration of the rule of law we experience in Hungary includes: Government agencies acting without legal authorisation; without providing reasons for their investigations; using Government agencies to get hold of sensitive information from NGOs such as names of volunteers; and disproportionate police action in investigations.’

Attila also noted that the Hungarian Constitutional Court’s increasing lack of independence is a key challenge for HRDs, especially in relation to strategic litigation.

Moving forward. Attila spoke about the importance of working to raise public awareness in Hungary about the value of human rights. ‘The reconstruction of domestic human rights guarantees crucially requires that we reinforce our efforts to inform the wider public about the significance of human rights and the concrete benefits they can reap from the domestic protection of human rights. The relapse in the level of HRD protection in Hungary was partly made possible by a lack of emphasis on wider awareness-raising and empowerment which allows people to make the best use of human rights, stand up for protecting them and recognising and fighting violations.’ Engaging with international human rights mechanisms is becoming more and more crucial. As Attila underlined, this is particularly accurate in the current context of weakening constitutional protection for human rights at the national level. More generally strategic litigation is of increasing importance as the Hungarian Government is reluctant to engage in a dialogue with civil society.

Source: Attila Mraz: Human rights defender from Hungary | ISHR

One Response to “Attila Mraz: Human rights defenders in Hungary have their work cut out”

  1. […] rights defenders in Hungary are increasingly working in a rather… politicized environment,” said Michel Forst, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human […]

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