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First mission to Hungary: UN expert to probe the situation of human rights defenders

GENEVA (4 February 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst will visit Hungary from 8 to 16 February 2016 to review the situation of human rights defenders to gather first-hand information on challenges faced by civil society in Hungary and explore ways to widen the democratic space.

“Since 1998, the United Nations has recognized the right to defend human rights as a universal right and States’ duty to support those defenders,” Mr. Forst said, announcing the first mission to Hungary by an independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the promotion and protection of human rights defenders in the world.

“This visit is a perfect opportunity to assess to what extent that right is guaranteed in Hungary, especially in the context of recent constitutional changes, the refugee crisis and the growing fear of the ‘other’ in society,” Mr. Forst said.

During his nine-day visit, which takes place at the invitation of the Government,  the expert will meet with State officials, members of the judiciary and of Parliament, as well as human rights defenders and representatives of civil society, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, and the diplomatic community.

“I look forward to having a constructive dialogue on ways to strengthen democratic space and create an enabling environment for rights defenders to carry out their valuable work in Hungary,” he noted.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations at a press conference on Tuesday, 16 February from 11am in the Jászai Mari Room of the Marriott Courtyard Hotel (1088 Budapest, József krt. 5). Access to the press conference is limited to journalists. English/Hungarian interpretation will be available.

Mr. Forst will present a final report with his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its 34th session in March 2017.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. For more information, log on to:

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 796 183 429 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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