Hungary Faces ECJ Defeat over ‘Stop Soros Law’

Hungary Faces ECJ Defeat over ‘Stop Soros Law’

Hungary faces another defeat at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) due to the alleged criminalisation of refugee workers. The so-called “Stop Soros law” of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government was not in accordance with European Union law, the ECJ Advocate General concluded in an opinion. The Advocate General’s expertise became necessary due to a lawsuit by the EU Commission against Hungary’s law.

The latter criminalises NGO employees and activists who seek to provide migrants access to an asylum procedure who were not persecuted in their country of origin or a country on their way to Hungary.

It states that only those who come directly from a place where their lives or freedom are at risk are entitled to asylum. The law also prohibits refugee workers from entering an eight-kilometre wide strip along the Hungarian EU external border.

The term ‘stop Soros refers to the liberal US billionaire George Soros. The Holocaust survivor from Hungary supports numerous civil organisations with his humanitarian foundation that help refugees and asylum seekers. The Hungarian government accuses Soros of bringing large numbers of Muslim immigrants to Europe and attacks him with anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Advocate General Athanasios Rantos now stressed that refugee workers’ criminalisation was an unjustified obstacle to their work. It was up to the authorities to examine applications for international protection – and not the call of NGOs or legal advisors. Moreover, the fact that Serbia is a safe transit country for Hungary means that many applications were doomed to failure, and helpers expose themselves to danger. At the same time, Rantos emphasised that, in his opinion, the eight-kilometre rule does not violate EU law. The ECJ had already ruled last year that the rule according to which an asylum application can be rejected if the applicant enters via a “safe transit country” is illegal.

The opinion is not a binding judgment, but the ECJ judges often follow these guidances. A decision should be made within the next few months. The EU Commission sued Hungary several times in the past few years because of the asylum rules before the ECJ.

(Photo: Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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