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Parlʼt suspends compensation for prison overcrowding

Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to suspend compensation payments to incarcerated individuals for overcrowded prison conditions pending the results of a national survey, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

MPs approved the legislation with a vote of 139 for, two against and four abstentions.

The law suspends payment of compensation for prison overcrowding until June 15, 2020.

It mandates the government to draft a new system of regulation affecting prisonersʼ compensation "on the basis of the national consultation" by May 15, 2020.

The law also requires the government to bring prison populations down to 100% of prison capacity, on average, by September 30, 2020, in the interest of eliminating prison overcrowding.

Hungary is being sued for more than HUF 10 billion in some 12,000 cases filed for prison overcrowding, and the issue will be addressed in a national consultation in March. Hungarians will be asked to weigh in on a number of questions in a survey during the consultation.

Members of the government have complained the suits are a methodical abuse of the law which benefits the lawyers handling the cases.

Justice Minister Judit Varga said 61% of the compensation paid by the state for prison overcrowding has gone to lawyers representing incarcerated clients, while just 10% has gone to the clients themselves.