A recent prohibition on promoting illegal migration in the Hungarian penal code is not against the constitution, but its stipulations cannot be applied to activities “aimed at providing humanitarian treatment or reducing the suffering of the needy”, the Constitutional Court said in a ruling published on Thursday. Providing humanitarian aid is outside the scope of the ban, the court said, adding that the ban shall not apply to “generous acts to meet a constitutional obligation to help the poor and vulnerable”.
The top court’s procedure was requested by Amnesty International Hungary, according to which the new stipulations are unclear and violate the freedom of expression, therefore they are against the constitution.
According to the court, illegal migration can only be promoted “deliberately and purposefully”, in cases when the perpetrator is aware that they are acting on behalf of persons that are not being directly persecuted. The perpetrator is guilty if they assist an entrant in obtaining a title for residency whereas they are aware that the person is staying illegally in the country, the ruling said. The ban only applies to “expressions aimed at enticing others to unlawful behaviours” rather than to expressing one’s opinion on migration such as in political discussions. “The risk to be avoided is not in the communication but activities that communication is aimed to elicit.”