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CoE expresses concern over Hungary’s lack of progress in implementing ECtHR ruling

The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers on Friday expressed concern about Hungary's lack of progress in the implementation of a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in the case of former supreme court president Andras Baka.

The Strasbourg-based body comprising 46 members adopted an interim resolution calling on Hungary’s authorities to submit an “updated action plan” by Sept. 30 to dispel concerns about the freedom of expression and independence of Hungarian judges.

The committee also urged the Hungarian authorities “to introduce the required measures to ensure that a decision to remove the President of the Kuria [Supreme Court] is subjected to effective oversight by an independent judicial body”. It called on the authorities to “proceed with the evaluation of the domestic legislation on the status of judges and the administration of courts, including an analysis of the impact of all legislative and other measures adopted and foreseen on judges’ freedom of expression”.

The Hungarian authorities, it added, are also encouraged to present the findings of their evaluation to enable the committee to assess whether its concerns regarding the “chilling effect on the freedom of expression of judges caused by the violations in these cases have been dispelled”.

The committee said it will review the case again in December.

According to the 2016 ECtHR ruling, the Hungarian authorities curbed Baka’s right to free expression. The court said at the time that Baka’s human rights had also been violated through the premature removal from his position when the new Hungarian constitution terminated the former supreme court and established the Kuria, its successor.

The committee said in July 2021 that the Hungarian government had failed to dispel concerns about the independence and freedom of expression of judges and asked for further information.

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