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Hungary: Amnesty launches legal challenge to shameful law on migration that targets civil society

PRESS RELEASE

Amnesty International will challenge in court the constitutionality of Hungary’s controversial law that criminalizes with up to one year in prison, individuals and organizations working on migration, the organization announced today.

The law, which came into effect earlier this year, is a threat to the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“The Hungarian authorities’ are persistently intimidating those who challenge their xenophobic policies. This law takes this intimidation campaign a step further by criminalizing their legitimate work to protect the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees” said Clare Algar, Europe Director at Amnesty International.

The complaint, which was submitted to the Constitutional Court today on behalf of Amnesty International Hungary, argues that the deliberately vague and ambiguous wording of the legislation leaves it wide open to abuse by the Hungarian authorities and risks discouraging dissent and lawful activities.

“This law is so broadly worded, it is farcical. It criminalizes a wide range of activities such as the preparation, distribution or commissioning of ‘information materials’ related to migration and also makes providing legal and other support to asylum seekers illegal.”

“The legitimate work of Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and civil society actors is under serious threat in Hungary. Such bullying tactics could indeed have a chilling effect on all organizations and hinder the important work that they do,” said Clare Algar, Europe Director at Amnesty International.

The complaint argues that the right to freedom of assembly – including the right to establish and join organisations, and to operate organisations autonomously, all guaranteed by the Hungarian constitution and by international human rights law – is threatened by this unjust legislation.

“Amnesty International is committed to the human rights of all people in Hungary. All our work is done in the public interest. It is shocking, not to mention shameful, that the government is trying to stigmatise our work and our supporters.

“We will not back down in the face of injustice. We will make our voices heard at every level, in solidarity with all those who defend human rights. This complaint is just one of many ways that we are ready to fight to defend justice, rights and freedoms,” said Clare Algar, Europe Director at Amnesty International.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Alison Abrahams on alison.abrahams@amnesty.org +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812 or Sorina Juglan at Sorina.juglan@amnesty.org or call +32 2 548 2773

BACKGROUND

The official complaint (in Hungarian)

One-page summary of the complaint in English

This complaint to the Hungarian Constitutional Court concerns recently passed legislation (Section 353/A. of Act C of 2012 on the Penal Code), effective in the country as of 1 July 2018.

Amnesty’s briefing ‘Hungary: New Laws that violate human rights, threaten civil society and undermine the rule of law should be shelved’ available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur27/8633/2018/en/.