Migrants preparing to bake bread in a building of an abandoned estate in the outskirts of Horgos, Northern Serbia, near the Hungarian border. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA/Edvard Molnar HUNGARY
Migrants preparing to bake bread in a building of an abandoned estate in the outskirts of Horgos, Northern Serbia, near the Hungarian border. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA/Edvard Molnar HUNGARY

Amnesty International has launched a legal challenge against the Hungarian government, filing an appeal with the constitutional court on an immigration law that the rights organization has called ''shameful''.

The Hungary branch of Amnesty International has submitted a complaint to the Constitutional Court this week against a controversial law that came into force on July 1, criminalizing individuals and organizations working on migration with up to one year in prison. It argues that the legislation leaves it wide open to abuse by the Hungarian authorities, calling it a threat to the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. 


The law 'open to abuse' 

''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 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,'' Algar said. 

Complaint over 'freedoms threatened' 

''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,'' Algar said. The complaint argues that the right to freedom of assembly - including the right to establish and join organizations, and to operate organizations 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 stigmatize 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,'' she stressed. 
 

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