Sunday 22 April 2018

Hungary tries to revive EU death penalty debate

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Credit: Attila Kisbenedek (AFP)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Credit: Attila Kisbenedek (AFP)

Marton Dunai

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has raised the question of reintroducing the death penalty within the European Union.

Orban raised the matter anew after the recent murder of a young tobacconist in southern Hungary stirred anger in the country.

His party's parliament leader Antal Rogan said he was aware European rules precluded capital punishment but added:"Even in an EU member state, if that country's public wants to have the death penalty... then a substantial debate can be raised on the EU level."

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Orban has taken a hard line on a series of issues recently as his party Fidesz loses ground to the far-right euro-sceptic anti-immigrant Jobbik party.

On Tuesday he said the question of reintroduction of capital punishment should be kept on the agenda in Hungary.

Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona accused the Hungarian premier of copying his party's playbook.

Orban's junior ruling party, the Christian Democrats (KDNP), spoke up against the idea.

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"A religious Christian politician cannot support capital punishment," KDNP vice chairman Bence Retvari told the web site

Hungary scrapped the death penalty shortly after the fall of Communism, in 1990.

Orban also proposed a series of tough measures to stem illegal immigration, telling voters in a letter that the EU's inability to deal with that problem contributed to a growing threat of terrorism in Europe.

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The European rights group Council of Europe (CoE) denounced what it called Hungary's populist political progression.

CoE Human Rights Commissioner Niels Muiznieks wrote in a statement that the death penalty would be "incompatible with Hungary's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and runs contrary to the values that Europe stands for."


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