Hungary has four parliamentary ombudsmen: the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations. Parliamentary ombudsmen are elected as independent watchdogs to oversee the application of human rights, rights relating to privacy and access to public information, the rights of ethnic minorities as well as the right to a healthy environment. While the rules concerning the election and status of parliamentary ombudsmen apply horizontally, the powers and competences of the four ombudsmen very greatly. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities mainly issue recommendations focusing on past breaches of law or the inappropriate conduct of public authorities, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations have broad powers to stop on-going illegal activities or to intervene in on-going administrative and court procedures.
Under the Ombudsman Act parliamentary commissioners are elected,
upon nomination by the President of the Republic, by the two-thirds of the
Members of Parliament for a period of six years (the term of Parliament is four
years). An active ombudsperson can be re-elected once.
have to fulfil a number of formal and qualitative criteria. Only Hungarian
citizens holding a degree in law can be elected who can demonstrate at least a
decade of legal practice or outstanding academic achievements in the relevant
field. Holding a number of political (President of the Republic, member of
government, etc.) and administrative positions (state secretary, member defence
and police forces, etc.) triggers a four year moratorium for election as
Following their election, ombudsmen are fully independent in their person, office, investigation, etc. They cannot seek or receive instructions from any authority or person, including other ombudsmen. Their only formal obligation towards Parliament is the presentation of an annual report on their activities.
Being an ombudsman is incompatible with any other professional, political, economic or administrative occupation. He can only receive additional remuneration for academic activities. Following election and every third year the ombudsman has to prepare and publish a report on his financial status.
Ombudsmen enjoy the same immunity from prosecution as Members of Parliament. They can be removed from office only by the vote of two-thirds of Parliament upon a material breach of his fundamental obligations or a conviction by a court of justice of a serious crime.
The four parliamentary commissioners operate independently in their discrete spheres of competence. In overlapping areas, such as access to environmental information or access to environmental justice ombudsmen cooperate in their proceedings. The four ombudsmen maintain a joint bureau that provides administrative and logistical services to their distinct offices. The budget of the commissioners and of the joint bureau is allocated by the national budget under a single budget line.
The powers, competences and procedures of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations are laid down in sections 27/A-H of Act LIX of 1993 on the Parliamentary Commissioner of Human Rights (the Ombudsman Act). The procedures of the Commissioner fall outside the scope of the Administrative Procedures Code or any other administrative codes, except to the extent the Commissioner takes part in procedures administered by other authorities (e.g. the Commissioner sues a polluter in court).
Given the framework nature of the relevant sections of the Ombudsman Act the Commissioner has further specified the rules of investigations by his Resolution No. 1/2009. (V. 4.), issued in May 2009 (the Rules of Investigation).
- Rules of Investigation