Proposed Hungarian Law Would Allow Government To Suspend Key Human Rights Whenever There Is A 'Terror Threat Situation'
from the please-see-government-for-definition-of-'terror-threat-situation' dept
Techdirt has reported how many Western governments are playing on fears of vaguely-defined “terror” to push through laws limiting fundamental freedoms that would never otherwise have been discussed, much less approved. Amnesty International is warning that Hungary is aiming to join the club — and go much, much further down this slippery slope:
A draft proposal to combat terrorism, apparently authored by the Hungarian government and leaked in mid-January, recommends amendments to the Constitution and to several laws to streamline the process to call a state of emergency in the country. If adopted in its current form, the proposal would have profoundly negative consequences for human rights in Hungary, including the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and movement, and the rights to privacy and security of person. The current proposal, referred to as the “sixth amendment”, devolves near absolute power on the executive in a so-called “terror threat situation,” the result of which would be a full frontal assault on human rights and the rule of law.
As Amnesty International’s more detailed analysis of the so-called “sixth amendment” to the country’s constitution explains, the “emergency measures” available during a very vague “terror threat situation” would give the Hungarian authorities wide-ranging and almost unchallengeable powers (pdf), including:
Blanket permission to introduce undefined “special counter-terrorism measures”
Complete government control over procurement of goods and services, including over supply lines
Restrictions on the movement of foreign nationals, including refusal to enter the territory, despite Hungary’s existing obligations under international law
Arbitrary restrictions on movement (including obligatory reporting requirements) for foreign nationals already lawfully present in the territory
Enhanced stop and search powers
Enhanced asset-freezing powers
Powers to seize and limit broadcasters’ equipment, and to control the content and messaging of broadcasts
Powers to suspend or limit the use of postal, telecommunication and email services
Strict controls on internet usage and traffic
Limitations or prohibition on contact and communication with foreign nationals and foreign organizations
Prohibition of organized demonstrations and assemblies in public spaces
Curfews in designated areas
Restrictions on travel to and residence in certain areas of the country (including the possibility of forced relocation or evacuation, or restrictions on travel within the country)
Deployment of armed forces in the national territory
Suspension or limitation of the use of key transport and infrastructure
Amnesty notes that the proposed legislation would almost certainly fail the test of necessity and proportionality required to comply with Hungary?s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. But something tells me that a government awarding itself near-totalitarian powers probably wouldn’t be too worried by a slap on the wrist from a bunch of human rights judges in some distant court.