Hungarian Civil Society Turns to the President Asking Him not to Sign the New Civil Code

Today, civil society organisations and experts from the field of disability rights sent a submission (available only in Hungarian) to the President of Hungary asking him not to sign the new Civil Code into law but send it to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review.

Office of the President of the Republic On 11 February 2013 the Hungarian Parliament adopted the new Civil Code which contains provisions that allow for “full restriction of legal capacity”, which is equivalent to plenary guardianship. Once a person is placed under this type of guardianship in Hungary, s/he will be automatically deprived of several rights including the right to marriage and family life, to decide where to live, to access to justice, to freedom of association, among others.

Hungary was the first European country to ratify the CRPD. However, currently there are almost 60,000 adults with disabilities in Hungary who are deprived of legal capacity, from which almost 34,000 persons are placed under plenary guardianship.

The new law specifically contradicts the statements made by the CRPD Committee in September 2012 in response to the Hungarian state report. The CRPD Committee was “concerned about the possibility of maintaining a modified regime of substitute decision-making in the drafting of the new Civil Code.” The Committee went further and recommended that the Hungarian Government “use effectively the current review process of its Civil Code and related laws to take immediate steps to derogate guardianship in order to move from substitute decision-making to supported decision-making which respects the person’s autonomy, will and preferences and is in full conformity with article 12 of the Convention, including with respect to the individual's right, in his/her own capacity, to give and withdraw informed consent for medical treatment, to access justice, to vote, to marry, to work, and to choose a place of residence.” (CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1, paras 25-26.)

Signatories to the submission point out that the new Civil Code follows neither the CRPD nor the Fundamental law of Hungary, according to which “Hungary shall ensure harmony between international law and Hungarian law in order to fulfil its obligations under international law“(Article Q para 2). A law that permits the “full restriction of legal capacity” violates not only the “pacta sunt servanda” principle of the Fundamental law of Hungary but other provisions as well including the right to human dignity.

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