a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 27-03-2009 / e) 34/2009 / f) / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 2009/38 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Freedom of the written press.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to respect for one's honour and reputation.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Occasionally, freedom of the press may give rise to a crime, an incitement to commit a crime, or a violation of public morality or the personality rights of others. The ability of the Ministry of Culture to cancel the registration of periodicals in these circumstances runs counter to the freedom of the press clause in the Hungarian Constitution.
An individual claimant and the Minister of Culture asked the Court to review the constitutionality of Article 14.1 of Act II of 1986 on the Press (hereinafter, the "Press Act"), as in certain specified circumstances and subject to judicial review the Ministry of Culture, the administrative agency responsible, could cancel the registration of periodicals. Such a restriction on free press was available in case of violation of Article 3.1 of the Press Act, which states: "The exercise of press freedom cannot constitute a crime or incitement to commit a crime, it cannot violate public morality, and it cannot cause a breach of other people's personality rights." Personality rights are defined by the Civil Code as including human dignity, the right to one's honour as well as personal data. In theory, therefore, both defamation and any conduct by the press that is defined as a crime by the Criminal Code such as libel, slander or incitement, may result in the banning of a newspaper.
The Constitutional Court held this restriction to be an unnecessary and disproportionate limit on free press as enshrined in Article 61.2 of the Constitution. The Court also pointed out the need for a complete revision of the Press Act, in order to bring it completely into line with the Constitution in force.