Leftist parties decry reported govt plans to change criminal procedure laws
Budapest (MTI) – Opposition leftist parties on Friday spoke out against changes the government will reportedly propose to several laws in connection with criminal procedures, which they said were “unacceptable” and designed to intimidate the public.
The daily Magyar Nemzet reported in its Friday issue that the justice ministry had drafted a package of proposed amendments to a number of laws which would make it legal for authorities to surveil or wiretap citizens without suspicion or probable cause. According to the article, if the amendments are passed, authorities would also have the power to read people’s letters or search their apartments or cars without a warrant.
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) called the amendment proposals a “betrayal” of freedom, solidarity and Hungary’s transition to democracy.
Speaking at a press conference, DK deputy leader Ágnes Vadai suggested that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wanted to “surveil ten million Hungarians day and night” out of fear.
“People can only be intimidated for so long, but in 2018 at the latest, we will take our country back from [ruling] Fidesz,” she said.
Vadai also said Hungary’s counter-terrorism force (TEK) already had the power to engage in warrantless surveillance, in spite of the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has said this was in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Dialogue party said the amendments would be used by Fidesz to “build a police state” in which people could be intimidated.
“It is clear that Fidesz sets itself no boundaries in dismantling the rule of law,” Dialogue board member János Hudák told a press conference. He said his party demands that the proposals be withdrawn, arguing that if passed into law, they could be used to damage people politically or economically.