War on the opposition: local parties and administrators targeted
The justification is that of a more just redistribution of revenue. For critics, however, one of the latest bills proposed by the government removes important funds from the coffers local opposition administrators putting them in the hands of the governors of Fidesz. The idea starts from the identification of “Special economic zones” in which to boost investments and infrastructure development projects which, in the event that they exceed € 14.2 million (in the previous decree they were € 284 million), will pay their taxes not to the individual municipalities, but to the entire county because , says the government, these projects could affect the lives of the inhabitants of a wider territory than the individual cities in which they are born. “By chance, however, – explains Vig – these ‘special areas’ mainly include cities and municipalities conquered by the opposition in the last elections in October, while the counties are governed by Fidesz. According to many political analysts, it is a move to hit other parties. ”
And it is not the only one. With the excuse of the Covid emergency, one of the decrees signed by Orbán provides that the 50% of public funding for parties Hungarians are transferred directly to a fund created to combat the pandemic. “Such a measure also and above all affects the opposition – continues the director of Amnesty Hungary – which have more limited access to other types of resources, which are essential for carrying out political and electoral campaigns as well”. A visibility that instead Fidesz enjoys thanks to his prime minister, the government for ten years now.
The “anti fake news law”: a means of silencing dissent
Among the measures that have caused the most discussion are the modification to the criminal procedure code that introduced the jail up to 5 years for anyone who spreads false news on the pandemic. Two weeks ago the official numbers were provided: 80 criminal proceedings started on charges of spreading fake news. “Some cases reflect the accusations – continues Vig -, but ordinary people who expressed a simple opinion on the management of the pandemic by the government, perhaps on social media, also ended up in the sights. The day after the publication of a post, these citizens were seen arriving at the police home who informed them of the proceedings against them and searched the house is analyzed the pc. Someone has also been arrested. ”
Among them, for example, there is the socialist mayor of Mohács, Ferenc Csorbai, guilty of having published a video in which he hypothesized a hotbed in his city after the case of a positive man who in the previous days had met hundreds of people. Thus, the first citizen ended up under investigation on charges of “Attack on public security” and faces a sentence of up to three years in prison.
At 6 in the morning, however, an activist from Gyula, party sympathizer Momentum, he was raided by the police who kidnapped him cell phone is computer before taking him to the barracks and interrogating him: the accusation is that of spreading false news for a Facebook post in which he tried to organize a protest for the management of the emergency. “There was also the case of a young man, linked to no political acronym, who after writing on social media that the prime minister was a dictator he was interrogated by law enforcement. They asked him if that ‘prime minister’ was reported to Orban. In that case, it would not have been personal opinion, but fake news and he would have been charged. ”
If Amnesty is aware of 80 open cases, no numbers have been provided on these actions carried out by the police. “This is due to another measure adopted in recent weeks – continues Vig – which has increased the maximum time limit within which the public administration must respond to requests regarding acts of public interest. If until recently the limit was 15 days, extendable up to a month, now the gap has widened up to three months. For this we have no idea how many firm is searches have been carried out “.
Also worried about the new executive squeeze on the dissemination of news journalists. “We asked many of them – continues the director – Some told us not to be worried because they feel protected by one independent judiciary. Others, however, have confessed to us that inside the editors the editors and directors are now discussing the publication or otherwise of an article on the coronavirus for fear of ending up in the police’s sights. ”
The government eye has not spared even the doctors he nurses committed to the forefront of the virus. In mid-March, the Medici Chamber (Mok) Hungarian complained that according to him the tools provided to the front line professionals against Covid did not guarantee a adequate protection for doctors and nurses. “Days later, the government responded by denying the reconstruction and attacking the doctors, claiming that it was a ‘blackmail of the leaders of the Mok towards the government that has no precedent in an emergency. ” The law was not applied against them, but the executive nevertheless sent a message. Not surprisingly, few doctors have expressed their dissent towards the government. ”
Who decided to demonstrate peacefully and without creating assemblies, prohibited by the provisions, in the best of cases occurred fines of hundreds or thousands of euros. “For example – Vig continues – a group of people demonstrated against the government by going out into the street with their cars, with the windows closed, honking horns. A form of peaceful protest that cost even more than € 2,000 in fines. Disproportionate punishment for those who were not putting public health at risk ”.
Non-Covid patients outside hospitals
One of the measures that has caused discussion is that which has forced the return home of numerous patients, also suffering from serious pathologies, hospitalized in Hungarian hospitals to make room for coronavirus positive. “At the beginning of the emergency, the Ministry of Health has imposed that the 60% of the beds in each Hungarian hospital it was used as a station for Covid patients, even when the cases were only 2 thousand or a little more (as of May 26, 3,771 with 499 victims, ed). Translated into absolute numbers, we are talking about 36 thousand beds to be released. Thus, patients suffering from chronic diseases and in need of treatment were sent home to counter a health emergency that, in the end, did not happen. ”
Extra-Covid measures: from the law against transsexuals to the Budapest-Belgrade High Speed Railway
Orban has also exploited the emergency climate to promote laws and carry out projects already in the plans of his government, but which have nothing to do with the emergency. What triggered protests by organizations in defense of human rights concerns the ban on people transsexuals to change the gender on the identity documents after the sex change. The proposal did not pass by decree, but with the favorable vote of Parliament which approved an amendment defining gender as “biological sex based on birth and genome”. In other words, it obliges you to keep on the documents the gender with which you are registered at birth, even if in the meantime a new identity has been taken which will not be legally recognized.
There have also been changes in the regulations regarding the presence of foreigners in the country. For example, in the event that the Hungarian authorities, following a violation of the law or anti-Covid provisions by a foreign citizen, also of theEuropean Union, decide to expel him from the country, he will not be able to appeal the decision and appeal to a judge: “Up to now, in compliance with the European agreements on freedom of movement between EU countries, it was possible – explains Vig – But with the new legislation this right has been eliminated ”.
Finally, the government decrees also guaranteed freedom of action for the executive as regards the decisions taken on the development of the new railway line to Budapest-Belgrade high-speed train, strongly desired by Beijing. A work for which Hungary has contracted a debt from 1.9 billion euros with the China and which has provoked criticism from the opposition: “This is an expensive, controversial and, in addition, little exploited by the population – concludes the director of Amnesty Hungary – But to prevent all the details from surfacing, a new law provides that the contracts and details of the agreement between the various countries involved remain secreted for 10 years“.