New Hungarian law criminalizes helping undocumented migrants

June 20 (UPI) — Hungary’s Parliament passed a new law Wednesday that allows the government to prosecute individuals who help undocumented migrants in the country.

Wednesday’s vote of the ‘Stop Soros’ law saw 160 lawmakers vote in favor, with just 18 voting against.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz Party, which holds a supermajority in parliament, assured smooth passage of the law.

The legislation — named after Hungarian-American billionaire activist George Soros — targets rights groups and criminalizes the act of assisting undocumented migrants. It also allows for the incarceration of individuals or the banning of organizations. Orban’s government has accused Soros of supporting Muslim migrants.

Under the new law, anyone can be jailed for working for or with non-governmental organizations involved in helping or campaigning for asylum seekers. Additionally, the new measure will prevent asylum seekers from claiming protection in Hungary if they are not directly threatened with persecution.

Amnesty International called Hungary’s new law “draconian” and noted the irony of the legislation passing on World Refugee Day.

“It is a bitter irony that as the world marks World Refugee Day, the Hungarian Parliament voted today to introduce a law that targets organizations and individuals who support asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants,” Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s European director, said.

“Criminalizing essential and legitimate human rights work is a brazen attack on people seeking safe haven from persecution and those who carry out admirable work to help them. It is a new low point in an intensifying crackdown on civil society and it is something we will resist every step of the way.”

Human Rights Watch, which opposes the law, said last month it would punish “legal and necessary” activities in Hungary.

“This bill is the latest salvo in the Hungarian government’s war on refugees and those who help them,” Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

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