EP hearing reveals systematic breaches of fundamental rights by Hungary
At the hearing, Amnesty International, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union described the systematic breaches of fundamental rights in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s leadership. The breaches include: widespread abuse of refugees and migrants’ human rights; curtailing the freedom of the media; sustained attacks against civil society; and the restriction of citizen's rights through constitutional changes in the name of 'anti-terror measures'.
The NGOs present drew attention to the specific case of a group of refugees – the so-called ‘Rözke 11’ – two of whom were imprisoned after being accused by the government of launching ‘a terrorist attack’ back in September 2015, when in reality they were simply protesting over the closure of the border with Serbia.
Worrying new legislative proposals by Hungary's ruling Fidesz Party were also outlined, including automatic detention of all asylum seekers in shipping containers for the entire duration of their asylum application and defining NGOs receiving foreign funding as troublemakers and enemies of the state.
Following the hearing, French MEP, Marie-Christine Vergiat, commented: “The case of the 'Rözke 11’ is symbolic. They were arrested at the time of the closure of the Serbia-Hungary border and accused of mass riots. Amongst them are two Syrians, Ahmed H. and Yaman A., who were accused of terrorism mainly because they were using a megaphone at a protest. They are two people with disabilities who are victims of the conflict in their country. This xenophobic manipulation of those events is unbearable in a country which is a member of the European Union.”
“In addition, Hungary's Minister of Justice László Trócsányi, who was present, failed to answer our concerns and only repeated the usual government remarks.”
Italian MEP, Barbara Spinelli, added: “It is useless to hold commemorations for the victims of communism in Hungary this week, if at the same time the protection of human rights is being equated to 'political correctness' and the definition of human rights is considered a matter for national sovereignty.”
“The Union lacks a European demos, it’s true. That’s the reason why instead we share so-called constitutional patriotism; which is to say respect for the rule of law, the EU Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights.
“For this reason, I thank Human Rights Watch and the Helsinki Foundation for their letter to Commissioner Avramopoulos yesterday which called on the Commission to take action to bring Hungary's breaches of European laws into line.
“Under Hungary's new law on asylum and migration – which I hope will be withdrawn – the automatic detention of refugees in transit zones is claimed to be necessary due to the current 'state of emergency'. However, this state of emergency has been in place since 2015 and its definition is still not clear.
“How can forcing asylum seekers to cover the costs of their own detention and the impossibility for them to appeal against inadmissibility decisions possibly be compatible with international law?”.
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