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Council of Europe Cites Hungary’s Progress on Judiciary, Media

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Hungary has made “significant progress” on reforms to the country’s judicial and media laws, the Council of Europe said.

“We have been able to change fundamentally the laws regarding two indispensable institutions in a system of checks and balances and rule of law, namely the judiciary and the media,” Thorbjoern Jagland, secretary general of the intergovernmental group, told a press briefing in Brussels today.

The reforms will result in fewer powers and more accountability for the president of the National Judicial Office in Hungary, including an agreement that the president can no longer be re-elected, Jagland said. The NJO president also may not initiate legislation, only make suggestions, he said.

Jagland said discussions with Hungary also led to several proposed amendments to the nation’s media law, including limiting the mandate of the president of the media authority and media council to one nine-year term. In addition, journalistic sources are now adequately protected in Hungarian law in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe said.

Cooperation between Hungary and the council will continue on media law “to further improve the legislation,” the council said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Clapham in Brussels at aclapham@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net.

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