01 January 2016
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The Hungarian government is preparing new emergency powers that, after the declaration of a "terror-threat situation", would allow it to take control of the media, supply chains, and to introduce curfews and prohibit public events or demonstrations, amongst other things.
The Guardian reports:
"Hundreds of people have rallied in Budapest against government plans to bring in anti-terror measures including restrictions on the internet and curfews.
“The plan would put an end to democracy once and for all,” protest organiser Lajos Bokros told the crowd of hundreds in front of the Hungarian parliament.
See: Hungarians rally against government push for sweeping anti-terror powers (The Guardian, link)
Lajos Bokros is head of an opposition party, Movement for a Modern Hungary (MOMA):
"Changes proposed to Hungary's constitution would allow the government to declare a special “terror threat-situation” that could mean curfews, state takeover of the media, limitation of ownership rights and suspension of other laws, according to a translation of the proposal released yesterday by the Movement for a Modern Hungary (MoMa), a party which is planning a demonstration against the law tomorrow."
The translation provided lists 30 different powers that would be afforded to the government under its proposed measures, including:
"1. obligatory publication of agreed and coordinated information, official resolutions for public service broadcasters
2. stockpiling, regulating and restricting the circulation of products, energy sources, consumer goods that are important for the protection of the country
3. the replenishment – with simplified procedure – and overwork of important positions in public administration, defense management, the Hungarian Defense Force and law enforcement organizations
4. the simplification of management system in certain sectors of public administration, the modification of regulations – administration period, authority, jurisdiction and scope of cooperation – of public administrative institution’s work schedule, and public proceedings.
5. restrictive regulations on frequency management and broadcasting, and order introduction of special modes
6. necessary restriction of air traffic in the Hungarian air space and airports
7. the employment of the Hungarian Defense Force, and law enforcement forces and equipment to protect the country and the critical infrastructure of public services
8. the limitation of ownership rights and locking interests of other states, natural persons, legal persons, and organizations without legal persons that threatens the security of the country
9. cumulating special reserves, speeding up purchases of imported goods, export restrictions, introduction of commercial quotas, suspension of public procurement
10. introduction of special counter terrorism measures
11. tightening the traffic control on state borders regardless of any international regulations and conventions
12. the use of alert levels for citizens as well
13. the use of special access control procedures and technical control in public institutions and public places
14. the tightening rules, introducing conditions or denying, personal or vehicle entry into buildings and facilities of public administration, Hungarian Defense Force, law enforcement and other organizations that contribute to defense. The traffic’s evacuation, limitation or diversion on their approach routes’
15. the searching of individuals or vehicles in the above mentioned objects and approach routes, in addition finding and destroying unattended things with unknown origins
16. making rules for service time – differently than the procedure in time of peace – concerning the Hungarian Defense Force’s operative military units and official cadres of law enforcement agencies
17. increased control of the internet, letters, baggage and mail traffic
18. the restriction of residence in certain parts of the country, and subjection it to a permit
19. curfew in the affected settlements with determination of the exact time period
20. prohibition of organizing events and demonstrations in public spaces
21. the use of rooms, studios, broadcasting stations, equipment, and facilities of radios, TV-s and other mass communication institutes, unbundling or ignoring them for use.
22. the suspension, limitation and controlling of postal and electronic communication services, furthermore the use of telecommunication and information technology networks and equipment, and the unbundling or ignoring the use of electronic communication equipment
23. the limitation of road, rail, water or air vehicles in certain parts of the day and in certain places (routes), or prohibiting their transport temporarily in all over- or some parts of the country
24. requisition or limitation of the usage of repair capabilities, stations, airports and storage units in order to ensure the road, rail, water and air transports, and perform transport services in expenses of the vehicle owner
25. the limitation or prohibition of entry of foreigners
26. the limitation or prohibition of contact and communication with foreigners and foreign organizations, institutions
27. an obligation to non-Hungarian citizens that stay in Hungary to report themselves to authorities, and the Government may introduce limitations on their stay
28. that traveling to, across, or out of certain parts of the country is possible only with a permit
29. that the population in certain part of the country has to evacuate for a necessary time, and at the same time the Government appoints a new place of residence for them
30. the use of regulations different from the rules on public finances, implementation of appropriation transfers between budget categories, suspension of execution of certain expenditure appropriation, fulfillment of expenditure not included in the law on the central budget, requirement of extraordinary payment obligations, establishment new type of fines, changing the rate of payment and fine obligations, elimination of exemptions and discounts."
See: Law would give government sweeping powers if a terror threat is declared (Budapest Businss Journal, link).
It has been reported that the Socialist Party has "proposed its own solution for managing terrorist threats" requiring parliamentary approval of special measures after an eight-day period. See:Socialists propose alternative method for managing “state of terrorist threat” (Politics.hu, link)
Meanwhile the far-right party Jobbik, which MOMA has warned could give the ruling Fidesz party the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to introduce the changes, apparently "agrees with the need for a terrorism-based state of emergency," but "it does not agree with the powers the government is proposing to give itself." See: Jobbik blocks government quest for “unlimited power in peacetime” (Budapest Beacon, link)
And: Hungary: Independent media facing soft censorship (index, link): "Hungary’s media outlets are coming under increasing pressure from lawsuits, restrictions on what they can publish and high fees for freedom of information requests, according to a survey of the 15 verified reports to Index on Censorship’s media monitoring project during the fourth quarter of 2015."
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