Hungary: Police must rein in unnecessary and excessive force used against protesters

The police must rein in unnecessary and excessive force, including the use of tear gas, against peaceful protesters, Amnesty International said today ahead of further demonstrations planned tonight in Budapest.

“Demonstrators are expected
to descend onto Budapest’s streets tonight for a sixth night of anti-government
protests. Last night we witnessed displays of unnecessary and excessive force
against peaceful protesters that included the use of tear gas. This must not be
repeated again. The police must use force only when strictly necessary and only
when all other means to contain the violence have failed,” said Massimo
Moratti, Deputy Director for Europe at Amnesty International.

“This morning’s forcible
removal of two opposition MPs from the Hungarian public broadcaster’s (MTVA)
building reveals the determination of Hungarian authorities to continue their
crackdown on any form of dissent. This is in violation of Hungarian law, which
gives MPs parliamentary immunity and access to all public institutions and
contravenes Hungary’s international obligations to respect the right to freedom
of expression.”

The Hungarian government’s
crackdown on dissenting voices received further international condemnation
today when the Venice Commission, one of Europe’s most prominent advisory
bodies on constitutional law, issued
an opinion
Hungary’s ‘migration tax’ law. The law forces civil society organizations
considered to be supporting migration to pay a 25% tax on any foreign funding.


Thousands of people have
taken to streets since Wednesday 12 December when the Hungarian parliament
adopted what protesters are calling a ‘Slave law’, which allows employers to
request workers to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year. Employers could
delay these overtime payments for up to three years.

On the same day, the
parliament adopted a new piece of legislation which created a new
administrative court system that would be under control of the Minister of
Justice, rather than operate as an independent judicial institution, as is the
norm elsewhere in Europe.

In addition to their call
to repeal the “Slave Law”, protesters issued a series of other demands
including an independent judiciary and independent public media.