Government decides on totalitarian refugee laws

With the use of the military inside the country and the reclassification of illegal border crossing from an offence to a crime, the government would put in force totalitarian practices before the change of the regime. Therefore, TASZ calls upon the parliamentarians to reject a law which ignores the basic requirements of constitutionality in light of the human rights crisis produced by the high number of refugees.

In the last few months, the high number of people fleeing to Hungary to escape war has caused the largest human rights crisis in the past decade. People are arriving in Hungary with serious physical and psychological injuries and do not receive any help from the Hungarian state. Rather, it works to expel them to Serbia as soon as possible. Virtually the only volunteer presence are civilians who have been working to ease the sufferings of the refugees for months, and who try to help the indigents with food, clothes, hygienic equipment and information from their own money and resources. The Hungarian state should fulfill its own moral and legal duties instead of avoiding its obligation by restricting freedom and deterring assistance.

The bill presented to Parliament would introduce restrictions of rights which do not have a constitutional basis. Accordingly, during the “crisis caused by mass immigration” (which has been declared and fostered by the government) a policeman can enter a private apartment if there are supposedly people who crossed the border illegally. This means that the police can break in upon a Hungarian citizen who gives shelter to a refugee family, or practically anybody. The bill threatens a prison sentence to those who cross the barbed wire fence on the border of Hungary, or who damage or inhibit the building work of the fence. Therefore, practically every refugee becomes the perpetrator of a crime also which gives the government the basis to punish them, and furthermore deport them, even if it would tear apart families. The military will participate with firearms, not only in the prevention of violent actions, but in all measures necessary for the handling of mass migration. Other coercive devices which can cause physical injury can be used against anybody if it is not intended to end human life. According to the bill, rubber bullets, captive nets, pyrotechnical devices and tear-gas grenades do not count as firearm use, and therefore do not need to be in accordance with the rules restricting their use. It is apparent the government is working on restricting the rights of refugees and their helpers instead of working out plans to provide accommodation, sustenance, transportation and healthcare especially in the upcoming autumn and winter period.

The crisis of mass immigration cannot be the basis for the suspension of fundamental rights or of restricting them beyond strictly necessary measures. Only restrictions meeting this standard are acceptable. They must ease harm and suffering and serve the the cause of human rights. It is the primary duty of the Hungarian government to defend these rights, and not allow them to fall by the wayside to defend the border.


Kapcsolódó hírek

Legal defense in a deteriorating rule of law

Today constitutional democracy is shrinking in Hungary. Rule of law institutions, which normally should protect the rights of the individual against the state are less and less able to fulfill this objective. Using its two-third majority in Parliament, the government has dismantled, weakened or conquered these institutions to protect its power instead of the rights of the citizens.

Inadequate response to the Venice Commission’s criticism

In March 2012 the Venice Commission issued an opinion regarding the new Hungarian cardinal laws on the court system and the judiciary, stating that “the reform as a whole threatens the independence of the judiciary”. The Hungarian Government has initiated an amendment of the two cardinal laws in question, apparently as a result of the Venice Commission’s opinion. However, the proposed amendments do not eliminate the conceptional problems of the new regulation.

HCLU: The Hungarian Example

Presented by Máté Dániel Szabó (Director of Programs, HCLU) at the international conference "No country for civil society – What strategies can human rights organizations follow under increasingly authoritarian regimes?" on 30 May, 2014, Budapest