On 12 October 2015, the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) presented a report “Still under threat: the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Hungary”, which was released on 10 December 2015.
According to the report, there is no doubt that the restructuring of Hungary’s judicial administration model has improved efficiency in the judicial system, however, the judicial independence could be strengthened further.
The IBAHRI delegation concluded that, contrary to international standards, the administration of justice is not governed by an independent authority with a substantial representation of the judiciary, and shares the conclusion of one of its mission interviewees, that the arrangement of the National Judicial Office (NJO) and the National Judicial Court (NJC) should be viewed as an interim solution. According to the delegation, a nationwide assessment of the justice sector be undertaken, as well as the government should be encouraged to engage the judiciary in a participatory, transparent and nondiscriminatory review of Hungary’s model of justice administration. The IBAHRI delegation also recommends a review of the composition of the committee nominating Constitutional Court judges to remove the perception of politicised judicial appointments.
The IBAHRI’s 2012 report expressed concern that the Hungarian lawyer’s oath had been changed by the government, without meaningful input by the Hungarian Bar Association, so as to require lawyers to ‘practise the duties and rights of the office of attorney for the benefit of the Hungarian Nation’, and also omitted any reference to the duty of confidentiality. As recommended in the IBAHRI’s 2012 report, the government had conducted a consultation with the Hungarian Bar Association with the result that the current lawyer’s oath is now in compliance with international standards. Lawyers no longer work for the ‘benefit of the Hungarian Nation’; rather they act in the interest of the client and ‘in the course of doing… safeguard all secrets of which [they] gain knowledge’.
The full report can be read here.