News & Analysis

Amnesty to challenge Hungarian anti-migration law

Amnesty International will challenge in court the constitutionality of Hungary’s controversial law that criminalises individuals and organisations working in the field of migration.

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

The new law creates a new criminal offence of ‘facilitating illegal immigration’ and will apply to both individuals and NGOs accused of engaging in certain ‘organisational activities’ that assist persons who are seeking asylum as well as people who have entered Hungary irregularly and are attempting to secure a residence permit. The will be five to 90 days imprisonment, with ‘more severe punishment’ for anyone who provides financial assistance.

“This law is so broadly worded, it is farcical. It criminalises 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,” Mrs Algar continued.

The complaint also 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,” concluded Mrs Algar.