Judit Varga – Photo: BZT / Nóra Halász

Justice minister: Rule of law ‘finally discussed by experts’

The debate on the rule of law is "finally where it should be", in front of justice ministers, the Hungarian justice minister said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Judit Varga told MTI over the phone that the ministers also responsible for European affairs exchanged views about the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the national prosecutors’ work in the member states, she said.

Whenever non-experts discuss the topic, and analyse the specific solutions of member states, the discussion easily degenerates into a “political witch hunt”, she said.

The participants discussed issues pertaining to prosecutor’s offices after a recent ruling of the European court, which voiced concerns regarding the independence of the prosecutor’s office in several member states, “but not in Hungary,” Varga said.

The Hungarian Public Prosecutor is elected with a qualified majority, and reports only to the parliament, completely independently from the executive branch, she noted. Meanwhile, Hungary has raised judges’ and prosecutors’ wages “in a historic hike” to guarantee independence, she said.

Regarding the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which was launched on June 1, Varga said “no one called out” the five member states, Hungary among them, which did not join the organisation. “When politicians discuss the matter, it becomes politicised, but experts will not use the discussions for pointing point fingers,” she said.

The meeting also tackled the issue of digital security which Varga said was “one of the most important challenges of our age”. Terrorism, paedophile crimes and organisers of illegal migration thrive in cyberspace, she said.

Hungary is committed to supporting tools to crack down on such content, she said, adding, however, that preserving the citizens’ right to free speech and opinion, as well as respect for member states’ specific legal systems are priorities.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Varga met Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus. to discuss victim support. Varga noted that Hungary introduced a Dutch model from January 1. In this approach, victims of violent crimes will receive help even if they do not seek out the victim support centres, Varga said. Victims can allow the centres to contact them through the police, she said. Hungary is among the top European countries in victim support too, she said.

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