Orbán assures Schulz death penalty not on government agenda

May 5, 2015


European Parliament President Martin Schulz has reportedly cancelled a formal debate scheduled for Thursday about what would happen to a Member State were it to reintroduce the death penalty, after receiving assurances from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that his government has no intention of doing so.

A meeting of the European Parliamentary Committee on  Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) was convoked for this Thursday after Orbán stated on April 21 that the issue of the death penalty “is still on the agenda”.  His comment, which was widely criticized both at home and abroad, was made during a visit to the city of Pécs in the immediate wake of the senseless, brutal murder of a young female shop assistant in Kaposvár.

At the opening of the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg last week, an Austrian social-democrat MEP called on Schulz to take action regarding Orbán’s statement. All EU Member States are required to respect EU law, which explicitly prohibits corporal punishment.

Schulz responded by phoning Orbán to discuss the statement. Minister in charge of the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár said Orbán reassured Schulz that he has no plans to reinstate the death penalty in Hungary, adding that Orbán’s statement was made because a serious debate has emerged in Hungary regarding merits of reintroducing the death penalty.

Armin Machmer, spokesperson for Schulz, later told Hungary’s state media that the European Parliament’s LIBE committee would convene the following week to discuss the issue. (Machmer also said LIBE would discuss Orbán’s statements regarding the treatment of migrants in Hungary).

It’s too soon to decide whether to reintroduce the death penalty in Hungary but it’s definitely an important issue, Orbán said during an interview on Hungary’s pro-government television broadcaster Echo TV.

Referenced in this article:

Orbán hiába hátrált ki, Brüsszel összeül a halálbüntetés miatt, Propeller.hu; 4 May 2015.