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Hungary Will Not Re-Introduce Death Penalty Despite Growing Debate

By Tamás Székely // 2015.05.04.

Hungary has no plans to introduce the death penalty, “it is only a matter up for debate,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told European Parliament president Martin Schulz. Orbán and Schulz discussed the issue over the phone, cabinet chief János Lázár said. Viktor Orbán also told European People’s Party leader Joseph Daul and group leader Manfred Weber that a debate is ongoing in Hungary about the death penalty but European Union laws will be respected, Lázár added.

The cabinet chief repeated Viktor Orbán’s comments in connection with the recent brutal murder of a shop assistant in Kaposvár, stating that the introduction of the “three-strikes” law and real life sentences did not have sufficient effect to prevent crime and therefore the death penalty should be “kept on the agenda”. “The unbelievable social outcry that has emerged in connection with serious crimes might not be heard in Brussels but it is heard in Budapest,” János Lázár added. Hungary respects the EU legal system, but the EU in turn, as an important guardian of democracy, should not reject any debate that concerns its citizens, he said. Later PM Viktor Orbán told commercial Echo TV that a decision on the death penalty was premature, but the debate on it should continue. He said the loud critical response from Brussels showed that “some people in Brussels do not want to allow debate.”

Meanwhile the radical nationalist Jobbik party said it would initiate a day of debate in parliament about the reintroduction of capital punishment, party leader Gábor Vona said. Vona said international treaties do not ban the death penalty, but there are even some members of Jobbik who oppose it. He called the death penalty “justifiable,” citing brutal murders as examples where it would be a just punishment. Concerning the planned free trade agreement between the EU and the US, he sharply criticised the government for “not raising hell” about the possibility of large US companies “ripping off Europe”. Commenting on migration, he said Jobbik would support the government if it indeed took action in this area. He said Hungary needed no refugees at all but it should make preparations for granting safe haven to ethnic Hungarian asylum-seekers from Ukraine.

via photo: Noémi Bruzák – MTI