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Jun 25, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

The Venice Commission opinion on the Stop Soros package: inherently flawed

Last Friday, the Venice Commission published its opinion on Hungary’s recently adopted Stop Soros legislative package. Regretfully, instead of acting in its capacity as an expert legal advisory body, the Commission seems to be more comfortable repeating political opinions.

What we get as a result? An inherently flawed opinion. To wit: 

The Stop Soros legal package – contrary to the Commission’s reasoning – doesn’t qualify as ad hominem (directed at a specific person or a group of persons) because it applies universally to every Hungarian citizen.

Secondly, while the Venice Commission argues that the new laws limit freedom of association and free speech, it disregards the fact that both of these rights are explicitly protected and promoted by Hungary’s Fundamental Law. 

Thirdly, they advise the government to state specifically that the criminal activities in question can only be committed deliberately and not out of negligence. However, this criterion is already prescribed by Hungary’s Criminal Code as a general rule.

Fourthly, the Venice Commission expresses concern that the Stop Soros package and the constitution’s seventh amendment “lacks sufficient public and social consultation.” That’s almost laughable, to be frank. The rough text of the proposal was made public as early as the beginning of this year and that followed an extensive national consultation (a process unmatched by other European countries) in which more than 2.3 million Hungarians voiced their opinions. Moreover, in the April parliamentary elections, Hungarians gave the government a clear mandate to protect the country from immigration and to take action against organizations aiding illegal migration. To opine that the amendment and the legislation lacked sufficient public consultation seems misinformed, at best. 

Hungary has enjoyed a remarkable amount of attention from the Venice Commission since 2010. In fact, taking into account all the opinions that the Venice Commission has issued since then, Hungary has received more attention from the Commission than the second, third and fourth most frequently scrutinized countries combined. Prior to 2010, only one Venice Commission document focused on Hungary. Since then, they have focused on Hungary sixteen times – sixteen!

The flaws of this most recent opinion in the context of that recent history lead one to wonder whether the distinguished, expert legal body known as the Venice Commission has succumbed to a political agenda. 

For the Orbán Government, Hungary comes first. This government will protect the country and our citizens – and the borders of Europe. We will stand by the Stop Soros legislative package because the law serves to defend Hungary and allows firm action against the organizers of illegal migration.