1 October 2020

1383rd meeting, 29 September – 1 October 2020 (DH)


H46-8 Baka v. Hungary (Application No. 20261/12)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments


Reference document




The Deputies

1.         recalled that this case concerns the undue and premature termination of the applicants’ mandates as President (Baka) and Vice-President (Erményi) of the former Hungarian Supreme Court through ad hominem legislative measures: in Baka through legislative acts of constitutional rank and therefore beyond judicial control, prompted by views and criticisms he expressed on reforms affecting the judiciary and exerting a “chilling effect” also on other judges and court presidents; in Erményi through an ordinary legislative act, unsuccessfully challenged before the Constitutional Court, found by the European Court, on the basis of its findings in the Baka case, not to pursue any legitimate aim;

2.         reiterated the importance, stressed by the Court in its case law, including the Baka judgment, of procedural fairness in cases involving the removal of a judge from office, including the intervention of an authority independent of the executive and legislative powers in respect of every decision affecting the termination of the office of a judge, and of effective and adequate safeguards against abuse when it comes to restrictions on judges’ freedom of expression;

3.         against this background, noted with concern the continuing absence of safeguards in connection with ad hominem constitutional-level measures terminating a judicial mandate, and Parliament’s competence, established in 2012 following the facts of the Baka case, to impeach the President of the Kúria without judicial review; noted that, in particular in the light of the Court’s recent findings in the case of Kövesi v. Romania (§ 124), the Eskelinen-criteria cannot be relied on to justify the exclusion of judicial review of any possible future impeachment of the President of the Kúria;

4.         noted the authorities’ draft declaration, presented at the meeting, that the measures which led to the premature termination of the applicants’ judicial mandates were part of a unique constitutional reform that has been completed, as well as the information contained in their last action report that no similar measures are envisaged in the future; nevertheless, considering that further sufficient guarantees against the reoccurrence of similar violations are necessary, and reiterating their last decision in this respect, urged the authorities to submit information on further measures adopted or planned with a view to guaranteeing that judicial mandates will not be terminated by ad hominem constitutional-level measures devoid of effective and adequate safeguards against abuse;

5.         noted with interest the authorities’ information submitted at the present meeting that they are considering amending the legislation to ensure that a decision by Parliament to impeach the President of the Kúria will be subject to effective oversight by an independent judicial body as required by the case law of the European Court, and encouraged them to introduce the required legislative amendment in close cooperation with the Secretariat;

6.         noted with interest, in the light of the concerns expressed by the Court regarding the “chilling effect” on the freedom of expression of judges caused by the violations in these cases, the results of the survey conducted in 2019 by the National Judicial Office about the integrity of the Hungarian judiciary  presented during the meeting, as well as the authorities’ undertaking to evaluate the domestic legislation on the status of judges and the administration of courts, and invited them to present the conclusions of their evaluation, including of the guarantees and safeguards protecting judges from undue interferences, to enable a full assessment to be made by the Committee as to whether the concerns have been dispelled;

7.         invited the authorities to submit an updated action plan, including information on all the above issues, by 31 March 2021, at the latest; and decided to resume consideration of this case in the light of the information received at one of their DH meetings in 2021.