- 17 Dec 2015 8:00 AM
The plenary session voted 327 in favour and 293 against the resolution which calls on the European Commission to start procedures to strengthen the rule of law and to monitor the state of democracy and basic rights in Hungary.
The Commission should also probe whether there is a systemic breach of these values in Hungary, the document said. In Hungary the freedom of opinion, the human rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees and the activities of civil organisations have been curtailed, as well as the rights of minorities such as those of members of the Roma, Jewish and LGBT communities, it said.
In addition, concerns have been raised over the functioning of constitutional order and the justice system and the independence of several other institutions as well as corruption.
The resolution said Hungary has unjustifiably criminalised refugees and concern was raised over Hungary’s respect of the principle of non-refoulement, which means that nobody can be sent back to a country where his life or health is in danger or where he or she can be persecuted.
Other criticism against Hungary included the incarceration of refugees and “xenophobic rhetoric” by the government especially in communication campaigns targeting migrants and linking them to social problems or security risks. The EP calls on the Hungarian government to withdraw its emergency measures announced because of the crisis of mass migration.
MEPs of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat parties called the resolution “revenge and an open attack” on Hungary because the country rejected the EU’s mandatory migrant quotas. The group saw a “coordinated campaign” against Hungary, triggered by a disapproval of the government’s migrant policy.
Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi, who abstained from the vote, said he would not support any proposal seeking to “punish Hungary for the crimes of (prime minister) Viktor Orbán”. Ujhelyi suggested that the EC should come up with an “efficient mechanism to prevent further construction of Orbán’s party state from EU funds”.
MEP Péter Niedermüller of the Democratic Coalition saw the move as Europe’s “recognising that Orbán’s government is a threat not only to Hungary but the whole of Europe”.
He said the resolution was directed at the Hungarian government rather than the country and voiced support for investigations into Hungary’s utilisation of community funds.
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