Hungary’s top court rejects petition to annul ’Stop Soros’ law

The Hungarian Constitutional Court has rejected a petition by the Hungarian branch of human rights watchdog Amnesty International to scrap a controversial refugee law criminialising individuals and NGOs helping migrants.

In its statement, the court said the law is “in line with the provisions of the Hungarian constitution”, adding that exisiting legislation provides sufficient legal guarantees that the law would not be misinterpreted by the courts, but acknowledged that the lack of judicial practice makes it difficult to determine if the text is precise.

However, while the court declared the law constitutional, it defended the civil society organisations in question. The ruling said the law cannot be applied upon “selfless acts purely aimed at helping the poor and those suffering in need”.

The so-called Stop Soros Act, a legislative package targeting Hungarian NGOs that support the integration of refugees, was introduced by Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, in May 2018.

While the government claimed the law was ostensibly introduced to tackle “pro-migration civil society organisations”, it is widely considered to be a tool in the Hungarian government’s anti-migration propaganda machine to target US-Hungarian billionaire and open society advocate George Soros, given that the NGOs in question support refugees and migrants who are already in the country and don’t encourage illegal migration, analysts say.

Last summer, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe adopted an opinion cricitising the law and called for it to be repealed.