[Photo: Bernadett Szabo]
Almost a week has passed since the Hungarian parliament passed a bill on World Refugee Day criminalising aiding undocumented migrants, much to the indignation of the United Nations, European Union, and international human rights groups who accused Hungary of violating international law.
The ‘Stop Soros’ bill aims to target NGOs and human rights groups; making those assisting migrants liable to imprisonment and even the banning of some organisations. Furthermore, pursuant to additional recent constitutional amendments, ‘alien populations’ cannot be settled in Hungary.
A representative from Amnesty International stated that “criminalising essential and legitimate human rights work is a brazen attack on people seeking safe haven from persecution and those who carry out admirable work to help them.”
The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission is calling for the bill to be repealed, arguing that Hungary’s new policy goes beyond what is allowed in consonance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 11 of the Convention (which was entered into force in 1953) provides that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others” and that “no restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms
Given this, the Council debates that the new bill is unfair in its criminalisation of activities which are not related directly to supporting illegal migration (examples would include the preparation of documents related to migrants’ asylum requests).
For the foreseeable future, NGOs which will be limited by Hungary’s new bill have stated they have no intentions of quitting, with representatives from Human Rights Watch declaring that they “will continue to advocate for the European Commission as well as individual EU governments to step up their criticism on this,” and arguing that there should be an action against the government for breaching fundamental migrant rights.Europe, International Human Rights / Humanitarian Law