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Mijatovic calls on Hungarian MPs to reject sovereignty package

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, on Monday called on the Hungarian parliament to reject a package of bills for setting up a sovereignty protection office "that would be vested with broad powers to investigate any organisation or person suspected of serving foreign interests or threatening national sovereignty".

The bill, if adopted, posed “a significant risk to human rights”, she said.

According to the commissioner, the new office would have “unlimited authority to request sensitive data and private information from anyone, without oversight and without any legal remedy.”

The draft is “so vague that the invasive scrutiny of the proposed office could be weaponised against anybody who may be considered an adversary due, for instance, to activities aimed at influencing democratic debate,” she said.

Mijatovic recalled her earlier warnings in connection with measures by the Hungarian government “to impose arbitrary restrictions to the indispensable work of human rights NGOs and defenders in the country.”

“If this proposal is adopted, it will provide the executive with even more opportunity to silence and stigmatise independent voices and opponents,” she added.

“Draft laws with such far-reaching consequences on the functioning of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Hungary should undergo comprehensive scrutiny and meaningful consultation before they are submitted to Parliament,” she said.

“I call on the Hungarian Parliament to shelve these proposals and use its legislative and oversight powers to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in line with the European Convention and the core values of the Council of Europe,” Mijatovic said.

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