Protests grow over Hungarian media law

Euro human rights org expresses its concerns

BUDAPEST — The Council of Europe’s human rights office has joined a long list of institutions that are concerned about new legislation in Hungary that appears to curb media freedom.

In a statement released Friday, Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, called for the repeal or revision of the law, which fines journalists and publishers if they refuse to disclose sources or publish information deemed inappropriate by the government.

He urged Hungary to use its media to promote pluralism and democracy. This comes in response to criticism that the legislation, which came into effect Jan. 1, has given Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s center-right government powers to diminish the voice of its political opponents.

“Hungarian media must be able to perform its role as watchdog in a pluralist democratic society,” said Hammarberg.

He urged the country to follow Council of Europe policies regarding media, adding that the law may not be consistent with Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which relates to freedom of expression.