Germany to grill Hungary over new laws at UN meet
Hungary will face tough questions from Germany over its new media law and constitution, which critics have slammed as reactionary, at a UN meeting this week, a German official said Monday.
The head of Germany's human rights mission told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that he expects Hungary to respond "clearly and satisfactorily" to questioning during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.
Faced with strong criticism from the EU, Hungary adjusted its new media rules but Germany's human rights chief Markus Loening said the law is still full of "rules that contravene international standards."
The new system gives a media council staffed with officials close to the ruling elite the power to control the content produced by journalists, and compels broadcast media to take content from a national press agency.
Media must also reveal their sources.
"It is a cause for concern and a cause for questions," Loening said.
"Between friends, we have the right to ask questions, including critical questions. That is what we are going to do on Wednesday," he added.
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban while in Berlin on Thursday said "the European Union cannot intervene in Hungary's internal affairs."
Loening also voiced concern over new restrictions placed on Hungary's Constitutional Court.
Following constitutional amendments adopted last month, the court is not able to rule on issues related to the budget or taxes, unless international treaties or fundamental rights are concerned.
"It is essential that the constitution guarantees a real separation of powers," Loening said.
Signed into law on April 25, Hungary's new constitution contains a preamble laden with references to God, Christianity, the Holy Crown of Hungary, the fatherland and traditional family values.
Critics have slammed the new constitution as discriminatory and some have raised fears about the status of those who will not fit the mould, such as non-believers, homosexuals or single-parent families.
"The foundations of European politics are affected when there is doubt over the freedom of opinion, the separation of powers or the protection of minorities," Loening said.
He however applauded Hungary, the current president of the EU, for its commitment to guard against the persecution of Europe's Roma families.
© 2011 AFP