U.N. Criticizes Constitutional Changes in Hungary


The U.N.'s human rights office took Hungary to task Friday over controversial constitutional changes, saying they undermined the independence of the country's justice system.

"The (constitutional) amendment was passed without proper public discussion on issues that may have a very profound effect on the enjoyment of human rights by the Hungarian population," the office's spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters.

The new rules, passed on March 11, curb the powers of Hungary's top court and reintroduce controversial measures its judges rendered void in recent months.

"This raises serious concerns in a variety of areas, including a possible threat to the independence of the judiciary, the authority and jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court and, by extension, to the rule of law in general," Colville warned.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has dismissed of chorus of domestic and international criticism on the constitutional changes -- the fourth since he swept to power in 2010.

The right-wing premier's moves have stoked concerns about creeping authoritarianism in the ex-communist country, which joined the European Union in 2004.

Critics say this week's amendment will prevent the court from voiding laws enshrined in the constitution by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which Orban's Fidesz party enjoys.

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