UN judge independence rapporteur concerned over Hungary top court choice

“Concern is expressed at the election of Justice Varga as the President of the Kúria, which has been made possible by the legislative amendments introduced by the governing majority in April and December 2019,” said García-Sayán. [Shutterstock/somemeans]

Diego García-Sayán, special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said he is concerned over Budapest’s top court president choice.

“Concern is expressed at the election of Justice Varga as the president of the Kúria, which has been made possible by the legislative amendments introduced by the governing majority in April and December 2019,” said García-Sayán.

The Hungarian parliament elected András Zsolt Varga to head the country’s supreme court for the next nine years in October 2020. The former deputy of controversial Chief General Prosecutor Péter Polt and law professor had never served in a judicial capacity before being appointed member of the Constitutional Court in 2014.

Varga’s “appointment may be regarded as an attack to the independence of the judiciary and as an attempt to submit the judiciary to the will of the legislative branch, in violation of the principle of separation of powers,” according to García-Sayán, who demanded explanations from the Hungarian government.

“The fact that Justice Varga was elected in spite of the manifest objection of the NJC, the judicial self-governing body, is of particular concern,” he added.

The letter, dated 15 April, was released upon the submission of civil society watchdogs,  Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International Hungary.

In his reply, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said: “The Hungarian government does not have any information on the political preference of any judge.”

“I encourage you not to become a tool of the Hungarian opposition,” he added. (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)

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