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.

Share

Related articles

Hungary’s new immigration tax: you have to pay if have a different opinion

After the third two-thirds mandate won by the governing party Fidesz, the Hungarian government adopted amendments to various laws, including the Fundmental Law. The amendements – the government argues – intend to tackle illegal migration, while the real intention is making operations overly burdensome for those who don’t share the government’s opinion on migration. Besides the changes to the Fundamental Law and the Penal Code under the name “Stop Soros” (analysed here), the government also adopted a new specal tax, under the name immigration special tax. It is nothing but a severe restriction of the freedom of speech: those that are supporting immigration in a professional way (doing so in an organized framework, as a calling, while using money from supporters) can, from now on, only do so if paying a special, 25% tax. The new “Stop Soros” provision to the Penal Code threatens human rights’ defenders and lobbyists with prison, while this regulation creates an existential threat for organizations active on immigation. The reality is that the immigration special tax puts limitations on the freedom of speech and on the work of NGOs. The new legislation was adopted by the Parliament, signed by the President of Hungary and came into force on the 25th of August.

HCLU's analysis of the seventh amendment of the Fundamental Law

The seven-year-old Fundamental Law of Hungary has been amended for the seventh time. Any amendment of the Fundamental Law should theoretically be based on a broad political consensus because a constitution does not reflect the majority’s will, but instead provides a legal framework for a government gaining majority via any democratic election to implement their political commitments. An ideal constitution provides for the possibility to govern according to different ideologies and defines the clear limits of governance that shall not be transgressed.

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