Lawyers for a rule of law condemn changes to laws governing asylum seekers

September 16, 2015

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A Facebook group called “Lawyers for a rule of law state” (Ügyvédek a Jogállamért) published the following proclamation on Tuesday, September 15th, the day Hungary effectively closed its southern border to asylum seekers:

We, the signatories of this proclamation are fully aware of the severity of the refugee situation and the problems posed by the thousands of people arriving every day to the Hungarian border. 

The solution of this complex problem implies logistics, humanitarian and immigration issues. Law only plays a small part in it. A miracle that solves the problem is beyond the realm of law.  

The legal measures the Hungarian government has just introduced are going to be insufficient. The Hungarian judiciary is not an immigration authority. It is incapable of dealing with this amount of cases under such conditions. Impartial, just and equitable decisions are severely threatened by the new legislation.

The new legislation coming to effect on September 15, 2015 constitute a direct breach of treaties signed by Hungary, the directly applicable EU law, the Hungarian constitution and principles of law. 

These rules will immediately lead to a series of practical problems and situations. The new law itself makes it impossible to solve these problems.

It is unlawful and unjust

• that juveniles will not receive the same protection in these proceedings as Hungarian or any other juveniles do in the normal procedures

• that the defendant will not receive the indictment and the judgment in his or her mother tongue

• that the defendant will be put to “house arrest” in a refugee camp where he or she will be deprived of the rights even arrested people have in the Hungarian legal system. (meeting the attorney, phone calls) 

• that even the identity of the defendant can be uncertain but the court has to act anyway

• that the documents will be delivered to the defense counsel so the defendant might not receive the documents of his or her own case

• that in cases where otherwise the court would sit as a panel of three there will be a single judge

• that people caught in the act of the border crossing will receive a treatment only convicted criminals do and will be deprived of their rights as asylum seekers

We expect these people to “follow our laws” while we have a different set of rules as “their law”.

We therefore demand the Hungarian government to submit proposals to the Parliament that are in line with the international and domestic law as well as general principles of justice and legislation.

We kindly ask our colleagues working as judges and prosecutors to keep their oath. Upon noticing the anomalies we ask them refer these cases to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice.

Dear Colleagues these proceedings and the judgements emerging from them are contrary to the very basic principles of our profession, and lack the slightest trace of the dignity attached to it. 

We have to defend the defendants no matter what are the charges against them or where they come from. We must use every legal means of the defense to do our duty. We must ignore political implications we must do our job. We demand our colleagues to do that. 

Hungary, September 15, 2015