Fidesz-funded legal organization recommends Hungary consider pulling out of Convention on Human Rights

March 21, 2017

The Fidesz-financed legal research organization Center for Fundamental Rights has recommended that the Hungarian government formally dispute a ruling made against it last week by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The group also urged the government to defy the court’s ruling and, if it incurs legal or political obstacles in that decision, to consider leaving the jurisdiction of the court or even dropping out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) altogether, reports index.hu.

Last week’s decision by the Strasbourg court declared that Hungary unlawfully detains asylum-seekers in the transit zones along the Serbian border, and that the practice of sending them back to Serbia violates their rights under the ECHR “to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment” as it exposes them to the risk of being sent back to a country that is not considered safe.

But the Center for Fundamental Rights disagreed with the court’s assessment, arguing that the court had in fact violated Hungary’s fundamental rights to defend its own borders and citizens. The center recommended the ruling be appealed and sent for review by the court’s Grand Chamber, arguing that the court had “once again overstepped the limits of its competence.”

According to the center, the Strasbourg court “interpreted in a fundamentalist way the rights of migrants at the expense of the (national) security interests of states, thus seriously violating Hungary’s constitutional identity and sovereignty by making laws rather than administering them.”

The center warned the Hungarian government that a legal appeal would likely fail, but recommended in that case that the government refuse to implement the court’s ruling.

Such a refusal would see Hungary move forward with its newly adopted asylum policy, according to which all migrants that entered the country improperly would be detained and escorted to the southern border without the chance to lodge an asylum application as required by international law. Migrants would then have a chance to submit an asylum application and, if accepted, would be detained in transit zones near the southern border and housed in storage containers for the duration of their asylum procedure.

In the case of Hungary’s refusal to comply with the Strasbourg court’s decision, legal consequences would presumably be forthcoming, in which case the Center for Fundamental Rights recommends that the Hungarian government consider leaving the jurisdiction of the ECtHR, even if it means withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made headlines last summer when, in the aftermath of an unsuccessful coup attempt in the country, the Erdogan regime purged the government to root out possible conspirators, and considered reintroducing the death penalty. Turkey suspended the European Convention on Human Rights in order to avoid foreign interference, stoking fears that the country was slipping further toward authoritarianism.

Eight countries have suspended the ECHR since its inception in 1953, including the UK during the Troubles and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. France also opted out of some of the convention’s aspects during an emergency state implemented in November 2015 after terrorist attacks in Paris killed 130 people.