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Government to spend HUF 35 billion on pre-investigation surveillance of Hungarians

Photo: Flickr/EFF Photos

The government has authorized the spending of an additional HUF 35 billion (USD 131.3 million) over the next three years for the implementation of a new law giving authorities broader reach in the surveillance of Hungarians, including conducting secret investigations to search for evidence of possible crimes without the need to establish sufficient probable cause typically required before conducting such investigations, mno.hu reports.

According to information published in the Hungarian government’s official gazette, the Ministry for National Economy will extend HUF 22.7 billion in 2018, HUF 11.8 billion in 2019 and HUF 0.9 billion in 2020 to those government organs which will be responsible for executing the changes, including courts, prosecutor’s offices, the police and tax authorities. A quarter of the money will go to government information and communications services, the document shows.

Among other changes, the law, passed by the National Assembly in June, authorizes government authorities to conduct secret surveillance on Hungarian citizens for one year before any official investigation begins, and to use information procured during that surveillance as legal means for bringing criminal charges. The measures empower police, prosecutors, as well as the Counter-Terrorism Center (TEK) to bug people’s apartments or vehicles, monitor their phone calls, and observe them with secret investigators.

“This is simply part of Hungary’s communist legacy,” a prominent jurist told the Budapest Beacon in March after the law was first proposed. “Using the state security apparatus’ techniques in a law enforcement capacity was how things were done before Hungary’s democratic transition. This rule of law issue from Hungary’s past seems to have carried over to today, and Hungary fails this test.”

Justin Spike :