Hungary to Restrict Criticism of Public Figures

The Hungarian government plans to change the country’s civil code to limit room for criticizing public figures from next year.

In response, Hungary’s data protection ombudsman suggested that the Constitutional Court should amend the planned modification of the code to cut out the bit that says freedom of speech can be limited if criticism of public figures isn’t taking place on the basis of “respectable public interest.”

Mate Szabo, the ombudsman, said this part is unconstitutional because it overly limits freedoms and it’s also vague since examples of situations when public interest would be “not respectable” don’t exist.

The planned modification comes shortly after the head of the prime minister’s office won a lawsuit against Hungarian website where commentators, according to a Hungarian court, hurt a politician’s dignity with remarks about an article. A court decision made the Hungarian news portal pay a fine of half a million forints ($2,232) and publish an official apology on the website.

The Wall Street Journal

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