Despite this week’s mass protests in Budapest, the Hungarian President has signed what has become known as ‘Slave Law’ and another piece of legislation establishing a new administrative court that would undermine the independent judiciary, rendering them under the influence of the Minister of Justice.

Reacting to the news that, despite this week’s mass protests in Budapest, the Hungarian President has signed what has become known as ‘Slave Law’ and another piece of legislation establishing a new administrative court that would undermine the independent judiciary, rendering them under the influence of the Minister of Justice, Massimo Moratti Europe Deputy Director, said:

“By failing to listen to the Hungarian people and formally enacting the two laws, the President has dealt another blow to the protection of human rights in Hungary. He had an option to send back the law to the Parliament or raise the issue of laws’ constitutionality before the Constitutional Court. Despite mass demonstrations in which thousands of Hungarians have braved freezing temperatures to protest against government’s attempts to restrict their rights and freedoms, the authorities remained intransigent

“Independent courts that are free from political interference are a fundamental tenet of human rights. And yet in Hungary, the move to bring courts under ministerial control is just the latest in a series of measures taken by the Hungarian authorities to erode human rights and rule of law in Hungary.”

Background

On 12 December, Hungarian parliament adopted a law, which allowed companies to request employees to work up to 400 hours overtime annually and delay the payment of wages for such overtime for up to three years. Simultaneously, it adopted a law establishing a new administrative court, which would operate under the control of the Ministry of Justice, rather than as independent judicial institution.

Thousands of people have taken to streets since Wednesday 12 December when the Hungarian parliament adopted what protesters are calling a ‘Slave law’, which allows employers to request workers to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year. Employers could delay these overtime payments for up to three years.

On the same day, the parliament adopted a new piece of legislation which created a new administrative court system that would be under control of the Minister of Justice, rather than operate as an independent judicial institution. In addition to their call to repeal the ‘Slave Law’, protesters issued a series of other demands including a call for an independent judiciary and independent and impartial public media. The protesters threatened to carry out a general strike and disobedient action if the President signed the legislation, formally ensuring its entry into force.