Orban passes ‘anti-Soros’ migrant law 

Orban passes ‘anti-Soros’ migrant law 

Hungary’s parliament has passed controversial legislation making it possible to punish anyone helping migrants with a year in prison.

The laws passed the lower house, in which nationalist Fidesz has a large majority, by 160 votes to 18 despite calls from the Council of Europe (separate from the EU) for the vote to be delayed until it had reviewed the legality of the law.

The so-called Stop Soros law makes it a criminal offence to conduct “organisational activities” that assist migrants not entitled to protection with asylum requests and to help foreigners “residing illegally in Hungary” to secure a residence permit.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban claims that George Soros, the Jewish Hungarian-born billionaire financier, wants to flood Europe with Muslim migrants.

The Hungarian electoral system allowed Orban to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority in April, which did not reflect the proportion of votes Fidesz secured. 

Critics of the law say it as vague and could be used to prosecute charities offering legal advice and aid to immigrants. 

It is claimed the “Soros” law could be used to silence or crush NGOs that fail to conform to Orban’s nationalism.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the law was “arbitrary” and vague, contravening European law.

Fidesz has accused NGOs funded by Soros of undermining the state and threatening national security.

The bill was one of the first pieces of legislation to be passed by the new parliament.

The law also allows bans citizens deemed to be supporting illegal immigration from getting within 8km of the border. 

A constitutional change was made stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary.

The vast majority of migrants who arrived in Hungary during the 2015 crisis moved on to wealthier countries to the west, but Orban built a fence (pictured) along the southern border. 

Hungary’s authorities said in April that 3,555 refugees were living in the Central Europe country, which has a population of 10 million. Only 342 foreigners registered as migrants in the first four months of 2018, mostly from West Asia, and 279 were approved.

The law will be poorly received in the European Union ahead of the leaders’ summit this month. 

Brussels has attacked Orban’s steadfast refusal to accept migrants from other member states under a quota system, leaving Greece and Italy saying they are at the sharp end of the migrant crisis. 



Hungary’s border fence. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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