Alkotmánybírósági indítvány az egyházügyi törvény egyes rendelkezései miatt

13 08 2012

Az alapvető jogok biztosának álláspontja szerint több ponton is ellentétesek a hatalommegosztás elvével, a tisztességes eljáráshoz való joggal, valamint jogorvoslathoz való joggal az egyházak elismerését szabályozó törvényi rendelkezések. Szabó Máté több vallási szervezet kezdeményezésének elemzése után az Alkotmánybírósághoz fordult.

A lelkiismereti és vallásszabadság jogáról, valamint az egyházak, vallásfelekezetek és vallási közösségek jogállásáról szóló törvény elődjét az Alkotmánybíróság közjogi érvénytelenségre hivatkozva 2011. december 19-én megsemmisítette. Az Országgyűlés ezt követően december 30-án fogadta el az új szabályozást, amely 2012. január 1-jén hatályba is lépett. Az ombudsman azonban Alaptörvény-ellenesnek találta a rendelkezések között azt, amely – a hatalmi ágak megosztásának alkotmányos alapelvét kikezdve – az Országgyűlés egyedi és megfellebbezhetetlen döntésétől teszi függővé az egyházi státusz megadását.

A vallásszabadsággal való szoros kapcsolat elengedhetetlenné teszi, hogy az egyház elismerésével, az egyházi státusz megadásával kapcsolatos döntés feleljen meg az alapjogokkal szemben támasztott összes garanciális követelménynek. Ha az egyházi státusz megadásánál a döntéshozót mérlegelési jog illeti meg, akkor törvényben kell szabályozni a mérlegelés szempontjait. Az ilyen elvek, rendelkezések hiányoznak a törvényből, és ez a döntéshozatalt politikai alkuk tárgyává teheti. Szükség lenne továbbá az elutasító döntés megindokolására is, de a törvény ebben az esetben sem ír elő indokolási kötelezettséget. Így nem tudhatjuk meg, mi az elutasítás alapja – állapította meg Szabó Máté. Az egyházi státuszról hozott döntéssel szemben pedig mindenképpen jogorvoslatot kell biztosítani és ez is hiányzik a jelenlegi szabályozásból.

A törvény ugyan meghatározza, hogy milyen feltételek fennállása esetén lehet kérelmezni az egyházi státuszt, a feltételeket teljesítő szervezeteknek azonban nem biztosít alanyi jogot ahhoz, hogy el is ismerjék őket egyházként. Az egyházi státusszal kapcsolatban ugyanis az Országgyűlés diszkrecionális jogkörben, azaz szabad mérlegelés alapján hozza meg a döntését, azt nem köteles indokolni és nem biztosított olyan jogorvoslati eszköz sem, amely az Alaptörvény értelmében annak minősülhetne.

Az ombudsman hangsúlyozza: az Országgyűlés Magyarország legfőbb népképviseleti szerve, amelyből következően az Országgyűlés olyan politikai fórum, amelynek elsődleges szerepe a törvényhozás, továbbá az Alaptörvényen és törvényen alapuló más politikai döntések meghozatala. A hatalmi ágak elválasztásának elve alapján az Országgyűlés nem láthat el olyan feladatot, amelynek során ad hoc jellegű, megfelelő alkotmányos garanciákat nélkülöző politikai döntést hoz az alapvető állampolgári jogok tekintetében.

Az indítvány a http://www.ajbh.hu/allam/jelentes/201202784Ai.rtf oldalon olvasható.

Forrás: Alapvető jogok biztosa





HUNGARY: The Ombudsman turned to the Constitutional Court because of the provisions of the Law on Churches

13 08 2012

BUDAPEST, August 13, 2012 – According to the opinion of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights the legal provisions regulating the recognition of churches are in contrary to the principle of separation of power, to the right to fair procedure and to the right to legal remedy. After analysing the initiatives of many religious organisations Szabó Máté turned to the Constitutional Court.

The Ombudsman finds the provision contrary to the Fundamental Law, which not considering the constitutional principle of separation of power among government branches allows the Parliament to decide by itself and  on church status recognition without the right to an appeal.

The close relation to freedom of religion makes it indispensable that the decision on the recognition of the church, on rendering the religious status meets all guarantees protecting fundamental rights. If it is at the discretion of the decision-maker to give the religious status, then the aspects of deliberation have to be regulated by Act. The Act lacks such principles and provisions. The refusal should be reasoned, but the Act also lacks the requirement of reasoning in case of refusal. Thus we would never learn the reason of the refusal – stated Szabó Máté. Legal remedy has to be guaranteed against the decision on church status and the current regulation lacks it.

The Ombudsman emphasises that on the basis of the principle of separation of power the Parliament cannot exercise tasks, during which it makes political decisions affecting fundamental civil rights without having appropriate constitutional guarantees.

Source: Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights





Open Letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban: “NO” to the new law on religions

12 04 2012

On April 8, European political weekly newspapers New Europe
published an Open letter
to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

 

We, the undersigned, wish to make our voices heard and our concerns expressed with regards to the Hungarian Act CCVI of 2011 on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities that restricts religious freedom.

The Act stripped Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and hundreds of other religious communities of their church status and forced them to undergo a highly arbitrary procedure should they wish to register as a religion.

Because of this legislation which we consider to be a violation of Hungarian Constitution and of fundamental human rights, dozens of religious denominations are deprived of fundamental rights they had acquired under the previous legislation:

  • they are not included in the category of religious communities which will go on enjoying the same rights as before and are exempt from re-registration;
  • they have to apply for re-registration and to this end to collect the personal data and the signatures of 1000 members instead of 100 previously;
  • they cannot re-register through a court proceeding as before but have to submit their application to the Parliament and need a 2/3 majority vote;
  • they have to go through a preliminary screening of a state authority (Ministry of Public Administration and Justice) implying an evaluation of their beliefs;
  • they have no legal redress in case of rejection but will have to apply for the status of “religious association” under the law governing civil associations (also under revision) and if they fail to do so, they will be liquidated and their assets nationalised ;
  • they will lose a number of tax exemption advantages while the registered communities will go on enjoying them;

The de-registration process will affect the support by religious groups to different communities and activities, including the care for homeless, the elderly, the poor, prisoners and minorities. It will affect amongst other things educational support, the provision of shelter and assistance to those disadvantaged in society as these religious communities will no longer have the proper legal framework from which to operate.

The Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship founded and led by Methodist Pastor Gabor Ivanyi, which provides food and shelter for some thousands of homeless people, lost its church status and is not entitled anymore for state support of its charitable work.

Jai Bhim Buddhist Community which contributes to social integration of young Roma adults and children, not only lost its religious recognition but was subjected to a police raid.

All of this is reminiscent of some long forgotten time and has no place in today’s modern Europe.

On 19 March 2012, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe published a 15-page Opinion about the new Hungarian Religion Law in which it expressed serious reservations (See http://www.venice.coe.int/docs/2012/CDL-AD(2012)004-e.pdf). It found that retroactively de-registering religious organizations offends international human rights standards. It also found that the Parliamentary vote on registration offends due process, withholds necessary procedural guarantees, and offends the obligation of state neutrality and objectivity. Moreover, it found the national security criteria to be in violation of European Charter of Human Rights and the standards of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

We hereby call for this legislation to be repealed and religious freedom being protected in the interest of all citizens of Hungary.

Willy Fautre,
Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International

Joe Grieboski,
Founder and President of the Institute on Religion & Public Policy

Peter Zoehrer,
Secretary General of Forum for Religious Freedom Europe

Rev. Drs. Wytske Dijkstra,
Chair of External Relations Committee of International Association for Religious Freedom

Rajan Zed,
President of Universal Society of Hinduism

Joel Thornton,
General Counsel and CEO the International Human Rights Group

Gibril Deen,

President of Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation

Janos Nagy,
President of the Confederation of Hungarian Small Churches

Janos Orsos,
President of Hungarian Jai Bhim Buddhist Community

Jura Nanuk,
Founder of the Central-European Religious Freedom Institute

For more information about the new law on religions in Hungary, please contact

CERFI: Contact through their website: https://cerf-institute.org
HRWF: [email protected] – Website: http://www.hrwf.org
IRPP: Contact through their website: http://www.religionandpolicy.org
FOREF: [email protected] – Website: http://foref.info





Hungarian Government amending controversial law on churches?

25 03 2012

CERF INSTITUTE, BUDAPEST – In the letter to Central-European Religious Freedom Institute dated March 20, Hungarian Ombudsman Dr. Mate Szabo, stated that Hungarian Government is going to introduce amendments to the Act CCVI. of 2011 on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities.

Upon reviewing the report of Venice Commission and the amendments proposed by the Government, Dr. Szabo will decide if an action on his part should be undertaken.

Dr. Mate Szabo’s letter was an answer to the complaint filed by Central-European Religious Freedom Institute to Hungarian Ombudsman in which the Institute urged that the law be submitted for evaluation by Constitutional Court. According to the Institute’s founder Jura Nanuk, main faults of the Hungarian law on churches are violation of the principle of separation between church and state by requesting MP’s to vote on church status of individual religious communities, violation of the rule of law by stripping more than 200 religious communities of their acquired rights, discrimination by categorization of religious communities in three groups, introduction of provision on “National Security” which is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the fact that the law does not leave any possibility for legal remedy for religious communities which are refused the status of a church.





The Venice Commission criticizes the state of religious freedom in Hungary

20 03 2012

The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional law, responded to a request from the government of Hungary for an advisory opinion, by issuing a report on Hungary’s 2011 Act On the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and the Legal Status of Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities. 

The main conclusions of the report are:

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a democratic society. In this respect, it may only be restricted by strict criteria set out in international instruments.

States benefit from a large margin of appreciation with regard to the relationship between the church and the state and with regard to the choice of their policies and regulation in this field. The Venice Commission recognises that there is legitimate concern in Hungary to eliminate the abuse of religious organisations, which have operated for illicit and harmful purposes or for personal gain. One of the main justifications for this new Act is the need to prevent some religious organizations from abusing the possibility of receiving public funding. Although various types of solutions have been found throughout Europe, the European guarantees must not be undermined.

As a whole, the Act constitutes a liberal and generous framework for the freedom of
religion. However, although few in number, some important issues remain problematic and fall short of international standards.

The Act sets a range of requirements that are excessive and based on arbitrary criteria with regard to the recognition of a church. In particular, the requirement related to the national and international duration of a religious community and the recognition procedure, based on a political decision, should be reviewed. This recognition confers a number of privileges to churches concerned.

The Act has led to a deregistration process of hundreds of previously lawfully recognised churches, that can hardly be considered in line with international standards.

Finally, the Act induces, to some extent, an unequal and even discriminatory treatment of religious beliefs and communities, depending on whether they are recognised or not.

The Venice Commission was informed that – as a reaction to the draft opinion – the Government intends to introduce amendments, which is welcome. The Commission had no possibility to examine these proposals but it remains at the disposal of the Hungarian authorities for any further assistance.

For the access to the full text of the report, please click here.





UNITED KINGDOM: Outrage at move towards banning Christian crosses from workplace

17 03 2012
The Scotsman (14.03.2012) / HRWF (16.03.2012) - www.hrwf.net - Religious groups have hit out at the UK government after a leaked document suggested it was moving to deny Christians the right to wear crosses at their place of work.

The Church of Scotland stressed that there should be “no discrimination” against people who wish to make statements of faith by wearing jewellery, after it emerged that ministers were fighting a case brought by two women at the European Court of Human Rights.

Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbol.

Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when the 61-year-old, from Twickenham, was suspended by British Airways for breaching its uniform code. Mrs Chaplin, a 56-year-old nurse from Exeter, was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after refusing to hide the cross she wore on a necklace.

Lawyers for the two women claim that the protection under Article Nine of the Human Rights Act for “manifesting” religion covers things that are not a “requirement of the faith”.

The article states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” including the right to “manifest” their religion or belief “in worship, teaching, practice, and observance”.

The government is expected to make a submission to the Strasbourg court which dismisses their argument as “ill-founded”. Its argument, leaked to a Sunday newspaper, will state that the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9, and… the restriction on the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an “interference” with their rights protected by Article 9.

The response, prepared by the Foreign Office, adds: “In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross, or crucifix, was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.”

Christian groups have condemned the government’s stance as extraordinary and said it should not interfere.

Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said: “Unless organisations have specific policies which preclude all employees from wearing jewellery, or governing the ways jewellery may be worn, the Church of Scotland hopes that there will be no discrimination against people who wish to wear items of a religious nature.

“Whatever the strict legal situation, we believe that individuals should have the right to make statements of faith, and this extends to the wearing of appropriate jewellery.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, also attacked the government’s argument. He said: “This is not the business of government actually. They are beginning to meddle in areas that they ought not to. I think they should leave that to the courts to make a judgment.

“If someone wanted to manifest their belief as a Christian that they wanted to wear a cross – after all at their baptism they are sealed with a cross of Christ – so if they decided to say, ‘I know I am sealed with it, but I am going to wear it’, I think that is a matter really for people and that we should allow it.”

Source: Human Rights Without Frontiers





Anti-Buddhism campaign in Austria

4 03 2012

HRWF (02.03.2012) – On 12 February, the construction of the biggest Buddhist temple in Europe was rejected by 67% of the population of Gföhl  who had been consulted on this issue. The mayor, Karl Simlinger, accepted the decision of the population. In the newspaper Standard, Bop Jon Sunim, a Buddhist monk and initiator of the project, commented the result of the referendum as follows: “The fact that the inhabitants of Gföhl have finally voted against the Buddhist temple is the result of a hate campaign of political and religious opponents.”

Among the promoters of this campaign, it is worth mentioning the “Austrian Society for the Protection of Tradition, Family and Private Property” (TFP) which distributed leaflets to incite the people against the Buddhist temple. “Buddhism in Austria, a wolf in the sheepfold”.

Prof. Christian Brünner, a constitutionalist from Graz and former president of the conference of the rectors, unambiguously criticized the anti-Buddhist hate campaign and the popular consultation.

Source: Human Rights Without Frontiers





HUMAN RIGHTS ALERT: Discriminatory actions against Hungarian Jai Bhim Buddhist Community

23 02 2012

By Jura Nanuk/CERFI

Hungarian Jai Bhim Buddhist Community operates several educational programs for Roma children and young adults in Hungary, using philosophy of Buddhism to help their integration into Hungarian society. In their work they are following the example of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Indian political leader and philosopher, born in untouchable caste, so called Dalits. Ambedkar converted to Buddhisms and inspired many of Dalits to do the same thus escaping humiliating life of untouchable Indian caste.

On February 23, police came to Sajokaza village to “investigate” the fact that in small Roma village 300 inhabitants identified themselves as Buddhists in last population census. Authorities found this suspicious and started an “investigation”, which might be represent violation of Data Protection Law, as religious affiliation is considered sensitive personal data per Hungarian law, and nobody has the rights to investigate somebodies religious affiliation.

Day latter, police entered Jai Bhim school building in Sajokaza, arresting three teenage girls. The girls were arrested and handcuffed and taken into local police station. From the recording of the school security cameras which recorded in full the arrest, it is clearly visible there was absolutely no need to use the handcuffs as the girls were not resisting the arrest and were not representing threat to themselves or others.

Needless to say, Hungarian Jai Bhim community lost their religious status due to repressive Hungarian law on churches  which affected hundreds of Hungarian religious communities.  When Jai Bhim’s  request for re-registration was refused by justification that they filed the papers one day too late which has nothing to do with the truth.

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Hindus-Buddhists-Jews-Atheists seek EU intervention in Hungary to restore religious equality

9 02 2012

In a remarkable joint interfaith gesture, Hindus-Buddhists-Jews-Atheists want immediate intervention of European Union (EU) in Hungary to establish religious equality and freedom.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism and many other religions and denominations were not officially recognized in Hungary. Should not all religions be equal before the law in a democracy? Is not Hungary part of the EU which boasts of being the human rights leader in the world? Zed asked.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion in the world with a rich philosophical thought and about one billion adherents. Are not these enough qualifications for a religion to be recognized?

Rajan Zed expressed dismay at Hungary’s recent law on religion, saying that it was a setback to religious equality. The official recognition process was suffocating, cumbersome, unnecessarily burdened the Hungary’s minority religions/ denominations, smelled of favoritism, discriminatory against certain faith groups and was without any right to appeal. It was a step in the wrong and backwards direction, Zed added.

Zed further said that nations should not be in the business of regulating religion, which was very powerful and complex; and governments should not tell who was “church” and who was not.

Rajan Zed urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and other world religious leaders to speak against this recent Hungarian law and back the minority religions/denominations of Hungary. Religions/denominations with a major presence in Hungary should also come to the rescue of religious minorities.

Zed stated that Hungary seemed to have created its own narrow “definition” of religion which might not be compatible with European and international religious equality and freedom standards. This exclusionary approach sent a worrying signal, a cause for concern. Zed stressed the need for more openness, equality and religious freedom in Hungary; the country of Lake Balaton, romantic Danube River, Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok.

Meanwhile, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada, in a statement today, stressed that Hinduism was one of the major religions of the world and the Hungarian Parliament was out of touch with the reality in not granting it recognition in upholding “The Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities” Law.  Rabbi Beyer stated that the Law created inferior religious status to faiths which had fewer followers in Hungary, violating the right to be free from religious discrimination.  Beyer noted that the Law, which also stripped liberal Jewish congregations of their religious status, was flawed and archaic.

Jon Eric Johnson, a well known atheist scholar belonging to Reno Freethinkers, in a statement today, said: “We are dismayed and disappointed at the Hungarian government for engaging in the regulation and exclusionary approach in religion. A free and democratic society must allow people to worship, or not worship, as they so choose without restriction, harassment or favoritism.”

Distinguished Buddhist priest in Western USA, Jikai’ Phil Bryan, in a statement in Reno  today, urged Hungary to end discriminatory practices aimed at members of any and all authentic religious traditions and treat all religions as equal before the law and government. Bryan stressed the urgent need of ensuring religious equality and freedom in Hungary.

In a past survey, 44% Hungarians reportedly replied that they believed that there was a God. Roman Catholics were the largest group with about 52% Hungarians as followers. Majority of Hungary became Christian in the 11th century. Budapest synagogue is said to be the largest in Europe. Pal Schmitt and Viktor Orban are President and Prime Minister respectively of Republic of Hungary.





Letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary

18 01 2012

Strasbourg, 12/01/12  – “Major legislative changes have been adopted in Hungary after minimal public consultation and without sufficient consideration of crucial human rights principles. Recent decisions affecting the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and freedom of religion raise serious concerns”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, publishing today a letter addressed to the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs about the new Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, which deprives a great number of religious denominations of their church status.

Full text of the letter is available in pdf format from the website of Council of Europe. For access to the full text please click here.

Photo courtesy of Council of Europe Image Bank








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