Bar Council and BHRC call on Prime Minister Orbán to reverse disproportionate emergency powers legislation in Hungary amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Bar Council and the Bar Human Rights Committee have written to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, expressing grave concern regarding the introduction of legislation on Monday 30 March granting sweeping emergency powers to the Hungarian executive as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter notes the absence of a time limit on the powers granted in the legislation, the indeterminate power given to the government to suspend laws and implement additional extraordinary measures by decree, and the creation of a new criminal offence in distributing information which is capable of hindering the government’s response to the pandemic.

These sweeping powers have been granted in the context of the well-documented weakening of Hungary’s judicial institutions, civil society and independent press in recent years.

Emergency measures must have a termination date and must remain in force only for as long as strictly necessary. The letter calls on Hungarian authorities to respect its obligations pursuant to international law and standards, including by way of Hungary’s membership of the EU and Council of Europe, and to take immediate action to reverse the disproportionate measures within the new law.

Read the letter in full here.