Hungary: EU action shows ‘intimidation campaign’ against those defending asylum-seekers will not be tolerated
Responding to a decision by the European Commission to refer Hungary’s “Stop Soros” legislation to the Court of Justice of the European Union and to launch a new infringement procedure against Hungary for denying food to people in the border area with Serbia, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions office said:
“Today’s decision makes it clear that the Hungarian authorities’ intimidation campaign against those who challenge their xenophobic laws and policies will not be tolerated. It also sends an unambiguous message to all member states that laws, such as ‘Stop Soros’, that flagrantly breach human rights, will be challenged at every level.
“By criminalizing the lawful work of activists and NGOs to protect the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, this law risks having a chilling effect on the important work that they do. But despite the serious threat, Amnesty International, other organizations and individuals committed to human rights have not been cowed and will continue to make their voices heard.
“This new infringement procedure also exposes the appalling treatment the authorities use to deter migrants and refugees from seeking safety in Hungary, including not giving food to rejected asylum seekers in the border zone.”
The “Stop Soros” package, which came into effect a year ago targets groups that the government has identified as supporting refugees and migrants. The criminalization of such activities is a direct assault on the work of civil society actors.
Amnesty International challenged the constitutionality of Hungary’s controversial law in court, however, the Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint by not finding the legislation in breach of Hungary’s constitutional, the so-called Fundamental Law.
Moreover, in the last few years, the Hungarian authorities passed measures aimed at denying access to and transit through the country, imposed arbitrary detention on those who attempted to enter Hungarian territory, subjected refugees and asylum seekers to violent push-backs and ill-treatment, and put the life of those who were waiting for deportation at risk by denying them food and forcing them to irregularly cross the border to Serbia.
Hungary was referred last September to the European Council under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union by the European Parliament, and now awaits its first hearing before the General Affairs Council.