Hungary has passed a coronavirus response law that gives sweeping powers to the government. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can now rule by decree, and there are jail terms of up to five years for anyone accused of spreading "misinformation," including social media posts.
No time limit is given for the state of emergency in the European Union-member country.
Excerpt from reporting by The Guardian's Shaun Walker in Budapest and Jennifer Rankin in Brussels:
Parliament voted by 137 to 53 to pass the measures on Monday afternoon, with the two-thirds majority enjoyed by Orbán's Fidesz party enough to push them through in spite of opposition from other parties, which had demanded a time limit or sunset clause on the legislation.
The bill introduces jail terms of up to five years for intentionally spreading misinformation that hinders the government response to the pandemic, leading to fears that it could be used to censor or self-censor criticism of the government response.
As of Monday morning, Hungary had 447 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths, although the real figures are likely to be higher.
More at The Guardian:
Hungary passes law that will let Orbán rule by decree
Hungarian Parliament passes bill that gives PM Orbán unlimited power & proclaims:
– State of emergency w/o time limit
– Rule by decree
– Parliament suspended
– No elections
– Spreading fake news + rumors: up to 5 yrs in prison
– Leaving quarantine: up to 8 yrs in prison#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/5ScZCbF4yv
— Balazs Csekö (@balazscseko) March 30, 2020
Don't let this become America. https://t.co/lEkeePB5L2
— Melissa Jo Peltier (@MelissaJPeltier) March 30, 2020
"The bill introduces jail terms of up to five years for intentionally spreading misinformation that hinders the government response to the pandemic, leading to fears that it could be used to censor or self-censor criticism of the government response." https://t.co/v8IY49OZO5
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) March 30, 2020
On today's new legislation in Hungary
"From the beginning, they didn't want an agreement, because they have used the whole thing for political communication," said one opposition MP who said she would have voted for the package if there was a time limit.https://t.co/oI4ivJlatc
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) March 30, 2020