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Former president slams curb on constitutional court

Former President László Sólyom hailed the introduction of constitutional appeal as option in the powers of the Constitutional Court but repeatedly criticized the curbs installed on the top court, in an interview news portal origo.hu published on Monday.

Sólyom, head of Hungary’s Constitutional Court from 1990 to 1998, and president in 2005-2010, said that the change allows the court to practice its powers as actively as it used to do within its powers for a posterior (abstract) review for a period after the democratic transition.

Sólyom, however, called it a deficiency that under an amendment to the law on the Constitutional Court late last year, only the government, or one-fourth of the MPs or the ombudsman of fundamental rights may turn to the court for an abstract review.

He also criticized the increase of the number of court judges by four to 15, insisting that sessions had been going much smoother before, in a court with nine members.

He expressed concern that with the restructuring of the ombudsman system, the individual posts of future generations and minority rights ombudsmen will be scrapped. At the same time, Sólyom said, current ombudsmen “have not been too active” before the public.

Under the new constitution, coming into effect on Jan 1, 2012, the ombudsman for fundamental rights will have new powers to initiate proceedings over alleged violations of the basic rights of large groups of citizens. The ombudsman will work with two deputies for the protection of interests of national minorities and future generations, respectively.