According to the Supreme Court of Hungary, it is not illegal to prohibit peaceful demonstrations therefore, HCLU appeals to the Constitutional Court

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is appealing to the Constitutional Court to challenge the decision of the Supreme Court of Hungary, which upheld the police's decision to ban solidarity demonstrations in support of the victims of the Gaza conflict. The Curia deemed the police's decision to be lawful, despite evidence presented.

According to HCLU, this decision means that today, in Hungary, it is not possible to express solidarity with the Palestinian civilian victims and to demonstrate for peace.

The human rights organisation emphasises that the ruling essentially means that only one opinion can now be expressed during a demonstration, which limits the opportunity for a real dialogue on public issues.

Since the terrorist attack by Hamas on the 7th of October and the subsequent outbreak of war, there have been several demonstrations in Budapest, yet the police have not allowed any in solidarity with the Palestinian civilian victims.

It is worth noting that the organisers of the seven banned demonstrations were diverse, none of them declared their support for Hamas and in fact, they strongly opposed such inhumane acts and planned on explicitly demonstrating for peace, in solidarity with the civilian victims of the Gaza war.

HCLU asked the Supreme Court of Hungary to reverse the latest ban, but the Supreme Court opposed it.

The panel of the court, chaired by András Sz. Vargas, did not find it unlawful that the police banned the 200-strong rally planned for November 22. The decision was based partly on the foreign policy situation and the negative experiences of some rallies held abroad. Additionally, the ban was justified on the grounds that, despite the peaceful purpose and security measures in place, there was a concern that violent individuals might join the rally.

Following the Supreme Court of Hungary's decision, HCLU would like to emphasise the following:

The decision from both the police and the Curia prevented the applicant from exercising their right to assemble because of an alleged, low-probability danger. The right to assemble is a fundamental right: it is not for the citizen to prove that he can exercise it, but for the State to make a strong case for the restriction. If the organiser credibly claims that he wants to organise a peaceful demonstration, it is up to the police to assist him with the relevant law enforcement measures, for example by helping to filter out any potential troublemakers.

According to the Supreme Court of Hungary, it is not sufficient that the organiser had fully cooperated with the police and that there was no doubt as to his good faith and peacefulness. The Curia furthermore also did not not consider that the organiser explicitly condemned the terrorist acts and intended that only those speakers who did so would speak at the demonstration. Instead, the Curia accepted the police's argument that participants might hold a demonstration in a way that would be dangerous to public order.

The police banned the demonstration for the seventh time after Prime Minister Viktor Orban publicly associated solidarity with the Palestinian people with support for terrorism.This raises serious rule of law concerns. In a state governed by the rule of law, the government and the Prime Minister should not have a say in what can and cannot be demonstrated for since this allows for the abuse of power in the pursuit of political interests.

The horrendous crimes committed by the Hamas terrorist organisation have also shocked the staff members of HCLU. According to HCLU, terrorism must be combated by all possible legal means and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The organisation however believes that, contrary to the assumptions of the police and the Supreme Court of Hungary, solidarity with civilian victims cannot be equated with support for terrorist organisations and cannot be considered a threat to public order.

"This Supreme Court of Hungary ruling sanctifies a police practice that says you cannot protest while a conflict situation exists because that would be too dangerous - you can only hold a peace protest when there is peace. This is nonsense. It should be the duty of the Supreme Court of Hungary to enforce fundamental rights, but it has not done so," said Szabolcs Hegyi, a staff member of HCLU's Political Freedom Project.

Noémi Fanni Molnár, a lawyer, represented the whistleblower in the case.


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