“For pedophile offenders, there is no mercy!” - Prime Minister Orbán proposes constitutional safeguard for minors

In response to a national conversation on the limits of presidential pardons, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has proposed a crucial amendment to the Fundamental Law, aimed squarely at protecting the rights and safety of minors.

This legislative initiative seeks to outright eliminate the possibility of presidential pardons for those convicted of intentional crimes against minors, emphasizing a core societal belief: The protection and welfare of Hungary's children are paramount, and the legal system must reflect this unequivocally.

Prime Minister Orbán's proposal to the Hungarian Parliament is grounded in a robust commitment to the safety of society's youngest. "For pedophile offenders, there is no mercy!" declared Prime Minister Orbán, advocating for a legal framework that leaves no room for leniency towards those who commit grave offenses against children. This stance isn't just a reflection of the prime minister’s personal beliefs but a direct response to the public's demand for stronger protections for children's rights and welfare.

"It's not about legal wrangling but about creating a clear situation with a clear, unequivocal decision," Prime Minister Orbán emphasized, highlighting the need for decisive legislative action. This amendment signifies the government's proactive stance in addressing the contentious issue of presidential pardon powers in certain situations, sending a resolute message: The safety and protection of minors are priorities that transcend legal or political debate, demanding clear commitment and legislative action.

Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, reinforced the government's position, underscoring the amendment's importance: "If someone commits a crime against children, they should not receive any mercy." This statement not only aligns with the government's penal policy but also clarifies its stance against any ambiguity regarding the consequences for those who prey on children. "This contributes to ensuring that everyone clearly sees the government's penal policy goals," Minister Gulyás added, emphasizing the need for clarity and resolve in protecting children.

Fidesz Parliamentary Group Leader Máté Kocsis, addressing the legislative timeline and rationale, provided some key insights: "The constitutional amendment proposal is expected to be adopted in the second half of March. Although it cannot retroactively affect past cases, it will apply to ongoing and future petitions." He also elucidated the debate that led to this legislative initiative: "A recent debate in Hungary has made it clear that the question should no longer be whether such an offender could be granted mercy. Instead, we must outright prohibit and make it illegal for such individuals to be granted mercy."

Furthermore, Máté Kocsis emphasized the amendment's critical role in reinforcing Hungary's child protection framework: "The constitutional amendment submitted by the prime minister must be adopted because it complements the child protection system. Henceforth, every offender must understand that if their actions harm children, the institution of presidential pardon will not be available to them."

He additionally highlighted the broader legislative context, pointing out the opposition's stance: "The ruling parties adopted Europe's strictest child protection and anti-pedophilia law in 2021, which was not supported by the opposition. They did not back the creation of a searchable pedophile registry, the tightening of the criminal code, or the related previous constitutional amendment."

The dialogue leading to this legislative proposal highlighted a critical debate about the role of mercy in the justice system, particularly for the most vulnerable. "A debate has arisen around the president's decision on pardons. This debate must be conclusively settled to the satisfaction of every Hungarian citizen," reads the justification for the amendment, penned by Prime Minister Orbán.

This conversation has set the stage for this pivotal amendment, advocating for a justice system that prioritizes the protection and rights of children above all else. The prime minister’s push to amend the constitution demonstrates a clear commitment to ensuring that the legal consequences for crimes against minors are unavoidable, aligning with Hungary's moral standards and societal expectations.

Adopting the amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly. This process underscores the amendment's profound importance as more than a mere legal adjustment; it's a declaration of the values Hungary stands for.