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Government suspends payment of compensation to inmates

January 21st, 2020

A liberal commentator thinks that the government’s decision to suspend the payment of compensation to inmates further weakens the rule of law. A pro-government columnist welcomes the decision, and finds it fully in-line with the opinion of most Hungarians.

The government decided to suspend the payment of compensation to prison inmates who complained about sub-standard detention conditions. A series of  compensation sums were decided by the courts according to a law based on a 2015 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that found Hungarian prisons overcrowded and incarceration conditions unacceptable. Pál Völner, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice criticized the Strasbourg Court for setting standards ‘above the living conditions of many honest Hungarian citizens’ and said the suspension will be valid until Parliament passes a new law under which any compensation sums granted must be used firstly to pay compensation to the victims of the crimes committed by the plaintiffs, then to pay the inmates’ debts towards the state and public utility companies.

On Index, János Halász deems the government decision to suspend compensation to inmates held in improper conditions, another huge blow to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The liberal commentator interprets the government’s decision as an open challenge to the law and court verdicts. Halász thinks that the government’s ‘demagogic’ decision may nonetheless pay off politically, as it may mobilize voters by creating another enemy that they can hate.

Magyar Hírlap’s Pál Dippold, on the other hand, welcomes the decision. The pro-government columnist contends that the suspension of compensation to inmates is in-line with the sense of justice of most Hungarians. Dippold believes that the majority of Hungarians are outraged by the use by what he calls ‘left-wing lawyers and criminals’ of European human rights law, to pocket huge amounts of money. Dippold agrees with the Prime Minister that legal procedures against prison conditions amount to an abuse of rights, and likens the procedures to corruption, as they are intended to syphon off public money for personal benefit.

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