The International Press Institute (IPI) on Tuesday slammed the Hungarian executive’s decision to override a court ruling that struck down the blanket ban on independent media accessing health institutions amid the pandemic.
A Budapest court said on 2 February that the ministry of human resources (Emmi) has unlawfully kept the media out of hospitals during the pandemic and gave hospital directors the power to decide on the issue.
However, a decree that came into force on 5 February gave that power to the government’s coronavirus task force, effectively overruling the court’s decision.
“This government decree is another shocking example of the Hungarian government’s efforts to block media’s access to public health information and hinder the ability of independent media to do their job,” IPI’s deputy director Scott Griffen said in a statement.
“There is no other country in the European Union right now which still has such restrictive hospital reporting policies in place as Hungary”, Griffen added.
“IPI continues to condemn the Hungarian government’s efforts to ban journalists from hospitals,” he said.
“We stand with independent journalists in Hungary in their demand for access to information, which is a fundamental right. It’s shocking that this is still up for debate in an EU member state.”
(Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)