Constitution amended to create ‘state of terror emergency’

In Hungary

The government can suspend civil rights and property rights and assume other powers if two-thirds of Parliament agrees that a “state of terror emergency” exists, under a Constitutional amendment passed today. The amendment allows the government to mobilize the army and public administration for up to 15 days, even without parliamentary approval.

From left, Minister of Defense István Simicskó, state secretary responsible for government communication Bence Tuzson and state secretary of the Ministry of Interior Károly Kontrát announce the passage of the bill at a press conference today. (Photo: MTI/Noémi Bruzák)

The bill, initiated by the Interior Ministry and the governing Fidesz party, was passed with the support of far-right Jobbik. 

In case of an emergency related to a terrorist act or "significant and direct" threat, the government, with a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers, will be able to declare and to extend such an emergency situation. Under the law, a state of emergency can justify suspension of the right to avoid illegal search and seizure, the right to public assembly, the right to free movement and also the right to property.

Even before the emergency is declared, the government can introduce measures mobilizing public administration, the army, police and national security forces, but such moves can last a maximum of 15 days, according to reports.

A different but related bill proposed by the Interior Ministry was backed by even the opposition Socialists and LMP parties. This anti-terrorism law package will give the army extended powers for the use of weapons in the event of a terrorist emergency. The government will be allowed to take measures like curtailing the use of vehicles, evacuating the public, ordering curfews and banning public assembly. 

The government can also order tighter control of the border and step up surveillance of the Post Office and traffic on the internet, among other things. The law also calls for the creation of a new anti-terrorist organization, the Information and Criminal Analysis Center for Counter-Terrorism (TIBEK).

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