Hungary considers passing law that would make offering food to refugees a criminal offence

Criminal penalties could be imposed on groups accused of supporting or financing illegal immigration if new bill passed

Wednesday 30 May 2018 16:49
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Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban
Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban

Hungary’s government is looking to pass a law that would make it a criminal offence to offer food to refugees, a senior politician has said.

If approved in its current form criminal penalties could be imposed on groups accused of supporting or financing illegal immigration.

As a result those offering food or legal advice or printing leaflets with information for asylum seekers, could be guilty of an offence.

State secretary Csaba Domotor said that the government wanted parliament to pass the law as soon as possible.

The country's right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, who was recently elected for a third term, is also looking to get the constitution amended to stop EU countries from moving asylumseekers to Hungary – in defiance of European Union (EU) migration policy.

Mr Orban has publicly opposed an EU scheme which would see 160,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea relocated to Hungary from Italy and Greece, where migrant camps are overcrowded.

​In power since 2010, Mr Orban has campaigned on a platform of fierce hostility to immigration for years - policies that have put him at odds with the EU, which funds Hungary with billions of euros every year.

The legislation is part of the government's campaign against George Soros, a Hungarian-born US financier known for funding liberal causes.

Mr Soros was vilified in Mr Orban's election campaign, which took a strong anti-immigration stance, popular with voters in rural Hungary. He has accused Mr Soros and the NGOs funded by him of a plot to undermine Hungary's Christian culture by flooding it with immigrants, an allegation which Mr Soros has repeatedly denied.

Mr Orban risks triggering a crisis in his Fidesz party's relationship with the EU's centre-right parties over laws they charge infringe civil liberties, an ally of Germany' chancellor warned.

Agencies contributed to this report

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