World Bulletin / News Desk
Hungary has seen a "serious deterioration" of the rule of law since 2010 and the EU has failed to rebuke the country, a rights group said Friday in a report rejected by Budapest as "baseless".
The European Union's "reluctance to use existing mechanisms to address the situation and the threats that this represents to its own founding values... is deeply concerning", the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) report said.
"At a crucial time for Europe, severely hit by the economic crisis, threatened by the rise of extremisms, particularly on the far right, and struggling to maintain its identity amidst a major loss of legitimacy among its citizens, Hungary represents a test for the EU to prove the continued value and credibility of its project," it said.
Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, independent institutions have been "restructured in such a way as to deprive them, in law or in practise, of their capacity to effectively exercise control over the executive," said the report, based on a fact-finding mission to Hungary in October 2015.
It said the ruling Fidesz party was favoured by a new constituency map and electoral law while the opposition was being frozen out of the legislative process, and criticised restrictive media laws and "attacks" on civil society groups preventing them from acting as watchdogs.
A "vile xenophobic campaign" targeting migrants and asylum-seekers and Hungary's disregard of its international and EU obligations "complete the picture of a country where democratic institutions and standards, including of respect for human rights, have significantly deteriorated and are under serious threat," it said.
Hungary's government said it rejected the report's findings which it called "baseless, politically motivated slanders".
"Viktor Orban was chosen as Hungary's prime minister at consecutive democratic elections, the decision of the Hungarian people must be respected by all," said a foreign ministry statement sent to the MTI news agency.
Hungary's defence of its borders against "uncontrolled illegal immigration" was "in accordance" with international rules, according to the statement.
"The Hungarian government will protect Hungarians' security, interests, and rights even if certain international so-called rights groups don't like it," it added.
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