Hungarian law criminalizing helping asylum seekers violates EU law and Supreme Court rules – POLITICO

Hungary’s law criminalizing support for asylum seekers and limiting asylum rights violates EU law, the bloc’s highest court ruled on Tuesday.

The move stems from a 2018 Hungarian bill that the government dubbed the “Stop Soros” law – a reference to liberal Hungarian-American businessman George Soros, a frequent government target. The controversial law prevented people from seeking asylum if they came to Hungary from a country where their life and freedom were not in danger. It also banned individuals and organizations from helping illegal migrants to seek asylum.

The European Court of Justice ruled that by adopting the measure, Hungary had “failed in its obligations” under EU law. The verdict is the European Commission’s latest legal achievement in its years-long battle over migration with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz government.

To begin with, the ECJ ruled that Hungary cannot reject asylum claims on the grounds set out in its law, arguing that the EU already has an “exhaustive list” of reasons for rejecting such claims.

“The ground of inadmissibility introduced by the Hungarian legislation does not correspond to any of these situations”, he declared.

The tribunal also ruled that Hungary could not criminalize such assistance to asylum seekers, arguing that it restricted the rights of individuals enshrined by the EU to communicate with asylum seekers and migrants to seek advice. legal.

After Hungary passed the disputed 2018 law, the European Commission took legal action against the country and sent a letter of formal notice accusing Budapest of violating the EU directive on asylum procedures and reception conditions directive. But Hungary has not changed its legislation and the Commission followed up on a reasoned opinion in January 2019 before referring the country to the ECJ.

More generally, Hungary and the EU have been clashing for years on issues ranging from judicial independence to media freedoms and refugee rights. Orbán has repeatedly accused Brussels of working against the country’s national interest and interfering in its internal politics.

The Hungarian government recognized the ECJ ruling but said it would not back down in its approach to immigration.

“We reserve the right to take action against the activities of foreign-funded NGOs, including those funded by George Soros, seeking to gain political influence and interference or even promote migration,” Zoltan Kovacs wrote. , a spokesperson for Orbán, in a blog post. . “Hungary’s stance on migration remains unchanged: help should go where the problem is, instead of bringing the problem here. In other words, migration to Europe must be stopped and the future of Europe must be based on families. “

Laura T. Thrasher