EU chief warns Hungary over return of death penalty comments
April 30, Belgium : Brussels has warned Hungary that a fight is looming unless Budapest distances itself from statements about reintroducing the death penalty, which is outlawed in the EU.Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, told Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, on Thursday that he had to immediately renounce statements suggesting that the reintroduction of capital punishment was being considered.
On Tuesday, following the murder of a woman in southern Hungary, Orbán said: “The death penalty question should be put on the agenda in Hungary and will stop at nothing when it comes to protecting its citizens.”On Wednesday his spokesman, Zoltán Kovacs, denied Orbán was talking of bringing back the death penalty. It was “Hungarian citizens and voters”, not politicians, who were talking about the death penalty. “We abide by the international laws.”Orbán’s remarks have triggered an international outcry.“Mr Orbán must immediately make clear that this is not his intention. If it would be his intention, it would be a fight,” said Juncker. He noted that the EU’s charter of fundamental rights “forbids the death penalty”.Hungary joined the EU in 2004. The death penalty in the country was scrapped following the collapse of communism in 1989.Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and leader of the Liberals in the European parliament, said that under Orbán’s policies, Hungary would no longer qualify for admission to the EU if it applied to join now.
The EU executive in Brussels said on Wednesday that moves to reinstate the death penalty could incur curbs on Hungary’s EU rights and entitlements.Orbán is a persistent critic of the EU, who holds up Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, as a model leader. His Fidesz party is allied with Germany’s governing Christian Democrats and other mainstream centre-right parties in the European parliament. There were calls on Wednesday for it to be expelled from the group.Leaders of the various caucuses met on Thursday and decided that the chamber’s civil liberties committee “will address the situation in Hungary as a matter of urgency, further to the statement by prime minister Viktor Orbán about a possible restoration of the death penalty and the preparation of a questionnaire designed to encourage Hungarian citizens to state positions on immigration questions”.
The Oslo Times