US visa waiver program questioned by the Hungarian President

By EDRi · November 5, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 20 October 2008, Hungarian President László Sólyom sent back to the
Parliament for reconsideration the adopted law on sharing criminal data that
was to be the final agreement between the United States and Hungary on the
US visa-waiver program.

Concerned with data protection issues, the President argued that the
agreement which authorizes the introduction in a register of all
fingerprints including those of the victims of crimes, would give the US too
large an access to Hungarian criminal records. He believes that the
Hungarian Parliament has to solve first the Hungarian criminal registry
system before adopting the law.

The Justice and Law Enforcement Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, while
expressing regrets regarding the president’s decision, stated they would
study his remarks and prepare a proposal in this sense.

As only part of the EU member states were benefiting of the US visa waiver
program, 6 new EU member states, among which Hungary, which still needed
visa for their citizens when entering the US decided to go into bilateral
negotiations to become part of the visa waiver scheme. The new scheme has
created concerns within the EU and EU data privacy ombudsman Peter Hustinx
as well as data privacy ombudsman András Jóri protested against the

As a recent news, on 3 November, the Parliament ratified with a large
majority, for a second time, the agreement for the country to join
the US visa waiver program. According to the Hungarian constitution, if the
document is voted in the Parliament the second time, the President has to
sign the bill. Therefore, starting with 17 November, the Hungarians will be
able to travel to the US without visas for up to 90 days. The only
requirement is that they have to be registered electronically.

Hungarian president vetoes U.S. visa waiver agreement (23.10.2008)

The US links the planned visa-exemption deal for Hungarians to the Hungarian
Sólyom rejects final accord needed for US visa-waiver (21.10.2008)

America does not force anybody to join its visa waiver program (17.10.2008)

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary – The last open
chapter in Hungarian-U.S. relations has been closed with Hungary’s entry in
the Visa Waiver Program expected within a month – Kinga Göncz welcomes
President Bush’s announcement (17.10.2008)

Hungarian MPs ratify US visa waiver accord (4.11.2008)[backPid]=11&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=5925