Hungary: Police must rein in unnecessary and excessive force used against protesters
“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 criticizing 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.
Despite this week’s mass protests in Budapest, the Hungarian President has signed what has become known as ‘Slave Law’ and another piece of legislation establishing a new administrative court that would undermine the independent judiciary, rendering them under the influence of the Minister of Justice.
On 12 September 2018, the European Parliament voted to trigger proceedings against Hungary under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union on account of the systemic threat to the core values of the EU. Five months later, the risk of a serious breach of core European values has increased as the Hungarian government and the ruling party further reduced the space for dissent and holding government accountable. This was achieved through enacting or enforcing laws that curb fundamental freedoms and further increase the government’s control over the media and the judiciary.
From 1 December David Vig will join Amnesty International Hungary as the section's new director.
Today the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law that renders the administrative court system under the heavy influence of the Minister of Justice. Previously the administrative courts were organically independent institutions but from now on the Minister will have dominant influence over who might become a judge or the president of the court.