Bence Tuzson - Photo: Facebook

Justice minister: Hungary rejects attempts to ban punishment of organisations helping migrants

Hungary rejects all attempts in the European Union to ban the punishment of organisations aiding illegal migration "citing humanitarian reasons", the justice minister said in Brussels on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU justice ministers, Bence Tuzson said organisations aiding illegal migration were engaging in “people smuggling”.

Tuzson noted that in 2018, Hungary adopted the “Stop Soros” package of laws that included legislation which criminalises sharing information with illegal migrants. “Hungary doesn’t want to change this,” he added.

“We will not adopt the proposal banning liability, because we don’t want organisations aiding illegal migration to be able to continue their activities without repercussions,” he said.

The minister cited an EU regulation allowing member states the decision not to punish organisations providing humanitarian assistance. But for the first time in the bloc’s history, there is a proposal that would mandate member states to scrap the measures in their criminal law that concerned “civil groups that organise and aid illegal migration”, he added.

Detailing the proposal, Tuzson said it called for limiting criminal liability to those who can be proven to be aiding illegal migration in exchange for money. He said that under the proposal, those who aid migrants in exchange for “proportionate financial compensation” could not be punished, either, adding that the proposal failed to clarify what “proportionate financial compensation” meant.

Tuzson said that though certain member states had expressed “shock” at the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, Hungary was the country that recommended rejecting the package in its entirety, sticking consistently to its earlier position.

He said this plan had been “another in a series of plans that the European Commission rushed before member states without consultation or an impact study”.

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