EU lawmakers want Hungary closely monitored over rights

16th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

EU lawmakers on Wednesday narrowly recommended close monitoring of human rights in Hungary whose centre-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is embroiled in a series of disputes with Brussels.

The European Union has repeatedly rapped Orban for curbs on the press and judiciary, culminating in a stand-off over draconian border controls he imposed to cope with a massive influx of refugees, mostly from Syria.

The European Parliament sitting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg approved by 327 votes to 293, with 61 abstentions, a non-binding resolution which warned that to do nothing risked other member states adopting similar policies.

"The European Commission should assess whether the combined effect of government measures (in Hungary) has led to a 'systemic deterioration,' which, if the Commission fails to address it, could trigger similar developments in other member states too," a parliament statement said.

MEPs however dropped provisions on the possible use of sanctions against Hungary and the tight vote and many abstentions suggested reservations.

The resolution also criticised recent changes to Hungary's asylum laws which it said "rendered access to international protection extremely difficult."

The new rules "unjustifiably criminalised refugees, migrants and asylum seekers (and the government uses) ... xenophobic rhetoric linking migrants to social problems or security risks," the resolution said.

The Commission said last week it had opened infringement proceedings against Hungary over a new law which it claimed prevents failed asylum seekers from winning appeals to stay.

Hungary in turn accused the Commission of "politically-motivated revenge" for Budapest's legal challenge to an EU quota system for distributing 160,000 refugees among member states.

Orban says the EU has no right to tell a member state who it can or cannot admit.

© 2015 AFP

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