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Government Extends Debated ‘State of Crisis due to Mass Migration’

Ábrahám Vass 2020.08.31.

Parallel to the publication of the new restrictions concerning the coronavirus outbreak, the government has yet again extended the State of Crisis due to Mass Migration. While it regularly points to the pressure on the southern borders as a justification, according to critics the regulation serves political aims and limits the exercise of fundamental rights.

The government first ordered the state of crisis in March 2016 and has upheld it ever since. It points to the southern migration routes as a reason for this decision, citing that many refugees and migrants are currently crowded in the Balkans wanting to go to Western Europe, through, for example, Hungary. The threat of terrorism is also a regular argument for maintaining the measures.

The pro-government Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokért Központ) regularly defends the state of crisis, arguing that it eases and accelerates proceedings, and helps public security forces, such as the Army, to effectively defend Hungary’s borders. The center also rebuffs the criticism that this measure has any considerable negative effect on the daily lives of Hungarian citizens, highlighting that since it is not a special legal order, the exercise of fundamental rights cannot be suspended.

According to critics of the State of Crisis due to Mass Migration, it only serves a political purpose for the Fidesz-led government by keeping migration on the agenda. In the opinion of the Helsinki Committee, a human rights watchdog, the measures also legally (and “inhumanely”) enable the government to “keep away,” “humiliate” refugees, and to “deprive them of their rights.” In addition, it also makes it possible for the authorities to bypass strict public procurement and competition rules. In 2017 the police, for example, spent HUF 15 billion (EUR 42.2 million) on car purchases without issuing a tender. The United Nations also regularly criticizes the measures.

Many also question whether the current modest tendencies of migration confirm the need for such regulation, pointing out that migration tendencies are declining all over Europe, and that Hungary is no longer under the extreme migration pressure described in the original 2016 decree.

The regulation will remain in effect until 7 March 2021.

featured image via Edvárd Molnár/MTI