thursday, 21 june of 2018


Hungary passes anti-immigrant ´Stop Soros´ laws

Hungary’s parliament has passed a series of laws that criminalise any individual or group that offers to help an illegal immigrant claim asylum.

The legislation restricts the ability of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to act in asylum cases and was passed in defiance of the European Union and human rights groups.

Under the law, officially called “Stop Soros”, individuals or groups that help illegal migrants gain status to stay in Hungary will be liable to prison terms.

Parliament also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary - a swipe at Brussels over its migrant quota plan. The prime minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in the chamber.

“The Hungarian people rightfully expects the government to use all means necessary to combat illegal immigration and the activities that aid it,” Interior Minister Sandor Pinter wrote in a justification attached to the draft legislation.

“The STOP Soros package of bills serves that goal, making the organisation of illegal immigration a criminal offence. We want to use the bills to stop Hungary from becoming a country of immigrants,” he said.

Fidesz was re-elected by a landslide in April after a campaign attacking the US billionaire George Soros and the liberal NGOs he supports. Orbán believes Soros has encouraged mass immigration in order to undermine Europe.

Orbán has led eastern European opposition to European Union quotas to distribute migrants around the bloc.

Two leading European rights bodies, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have criticised Hungary’s new law as “arbitrary” and vague and said it contravenes European law.

The Venice Commission, an expert body at the Council of Europe, had asked Hungary not to approve the new law until a report it co-authored with the OSCE was published.

Immigration has become a major concern for voters across the European Union, helping to propel anti-migrant populists to power in Italy and Austria and threatening to fracture Merkel’s three-month-old coalition in Germany.

Orban has drummed up support for his tough measures by exploiting Hungarians’ memories of the large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants fleeing conflicts in the Middle East who surged into the country in the summer of 2015.

The vast majority of them moved on to wealthier western European countries, but Orban has branded the migrants a threat to Europe’s Christian civilisation and built a border fence along Hungary’s southern borders to deter more from coming.

Hungarian statistics show 3,555 refugees living in Hungary, a country of 10 million, as of April. Only 342 people were registered as asylum seekers in the first four months of this year, mostly from the Middle East, and 279 were approved.
(Published by The Guardian, June 20, 2018)

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