EP set to debate Orbán’s comments on capital punishment, immigration

May 19, 2015

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While the US congressional subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats holds hearings on Hungary, the European Parliament is scheduled to hold the third in a series of debates on the subject of what would happen were an EU member to decide to reinstate the death penalty.  The debates follow remarks made last month by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán calling for a public debate over the potential benefits of reinstating capital punishment and whether Hungary should introduce even stricter limits on the number of so-called “economic migrants” entering Hungary.

The fact that the European Union’s acquis communautaire prohibits corporal punishment has not dissuaded Hungary’s government from conducting a so-called “public consultation” on the issue of immigration and the death penalty at a cost to Hungarian taxpayers of HUF 900 million (USD 3.7 million).

According to a press statement issued by the EP press office this morning, “MEPs will debate the situation with Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans late on Tuesday afternoon. The debate follows Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s remarks on the possibility of reinstating capital punishment in Hungary and a public consultation on immigration launched by the Hungarian government. Mr. Orbán will also be present during the debate”.

EP members have been taken by surprise over Orbán’s insistence that he be allowed to attend the debate.

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz says he generally welcomes heads of EU council member governments attending plenary sessions. However, Schulz said Orbán’s visit posed a “procedural problem” and he reportedly met with leaders of the various parliamentary groups to clarify that Orbán will not represent the position of the European Council during the EP session.

This debate is the latest in a series of EP meetings convened to discuss the possible effects and consequences of an EU Member State deciding to reintroduce the death penalty. On April 30th, 2015, the Conference of Presidents asked the EP’s Civil Liberties Committee to examine the issue “as a matter of urgency”. On May 7th, 2015, the European Committee debated the issue. Now, the plenary session of parliament will debate the issue. The parliament will vote on a resolution in June.

Recently former EC president Manuel Barroso told ATV that any country wishing to reinstate the death penalty should leave the EU.

The debate can be watched here.

Referenced in this artice:

Orbán Strasbourgba megy: Schulz bekérette az EP-frakcióvezetőket, HVG.hu; 18 May 2015.

Situation in Hungary: debate on Tuesday afternoon with PM Viktor Orbán, europarl.europa.eu; 19 May 2015.