US government: Hungary's Sovereignty Protection Act ‘inconsistent with democracy’

December 21. 2023. – 08:33 AM



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"This new law is inconsistent with our shared values of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law", the US Department of State writes about the Sovereignty Protection Act adopted by the Hungarian Parliament last week, and signed and promulgated by President Katalin Novák on Wednesday.

Spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement that the United States is concerned about the law, which “equips the Hungarian government with draconian tools that can be used to intimidate and punish those with views not shared by the ruling party.”

According to the US State Department, the Sovereignty Protection Authority which will start operating in February, can investigate Hungarian citizens, businesses and organisations without judicial oversight, even if these organisations have no actual connections with or have not received support from foreign governments or foreign organisations.

"This is not a 'foreign agent law',"David Pressman, US ambassador to Budapest wrote on Facebook. “This new state body has unfettered powers to interrogate Hungarians, demand their private documents, and utilize the services of Hungary’s intelligence apparatus — all without any judicial oversight or judicial recourse for its targets.”

The Sovereignty Protection Act is open to interpretation on several points. Under the Act, a new authority, the Sovereignty Protection Authority is to be set up from 1 February, and will essentially be tasked with inspecting anyone suspected of threatening Hungary's sovereignty. What exactly constitutes a threat is unclear, and exactly who the new authority will be authorised to investigate can also be broadly interpreted.

The law, which was adopted last Tuesday, was protested by independent news outlets (including Telex) and NGOs as well. The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights had earlier called on the Hungarian ruling parties not to adopt it, while the opposition tabled its own proposal in its place, and US Ambassador David Pressman had said that Hungary's new "law makes Moscow’s foreign agent law look mild and meek".

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