Hungary does not consider itself covered by the charter of 13 EU countries with regard to public limits during Coronavirus pandemic
THE Hungarian government did not consider itself included in the letter in which 13 European Union countries call for emergency measures to combat the new coronavirus pandemic to limit its residents to what is strictly necessary.
The letter did not explicitly target Hungary but was published after the Hungarian parliament, controlled by the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, approved extraordinary powers that allow him to govern by decree indefinitely. It also addressed, indirectly, aspects of controversial legislation, stating that “the emergency measures should be limited to what is strictly necessary, must be proportionate and temporary in nature, subject to regular scrutiny and comply with the above principles and obligations of International law.”
Cited by the EFE agency, the Hungarian Ministry of Justice assured that it was in agreement with what was highlighted in the letter.
“We fully agree with the statement by the 13 Member States published yesterday,” the Ministry said, adding that it agreed with the defence of ‘values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights’.”
The Hungarian government also reports that all EU countries have taken exceptional measures to deal with the pandemic, which currently has its epicentre on the European continent, with more than 508,000 infected and 34,500 dead.
The letter, signed by Portugal, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden also states that the measures ‘must not restrict freedom of expression or freedom of the press.’
The amendments approved by the Hungarian parliament include, in particular, sentences of up to five years in prison for anyone who disseminates ‘false information’ about the virus, in a country where this accusation has been made mainly against independent ‘media.’
“The Commission will, based on European principles and values, analyse the law and monitor its application by the Hungarian government, including the criminalisation of false news,” said community executive spokesman Eric Mamer, stressing that “of uncertainty, freedom of the press and expression must be guaranteed.”