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Top European court says Hungary’s ‘stop Soros’ migrant law violated EU law

This photo taken on July 5, 2017 in Budapest, shows an anti-Soros campaign reading "99 percent reject illegal migration" and “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh”. (AP Photo/Pablo Gorondi)
This photo taken on July 5, 2017 in Budapest, shows an anti-Soros campaign reading "99 percent reject illegal migration" and “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh”. (AP Photo/Pablo Gorondi)

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top court rules that Hungary broke EU law by making it a criminal offense for people or organizations to help migrants and refugees apply for asylum, in a new legal blow to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government.

Hungary erected a razor-wire barrier on its border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015 as well over 1 million people, most fleeing conflict in Syria, entered the EU, often from Turkey via Greece. Tens of thousands moved north, deeper into the EU, in search of sanctuary and better lives.

As more people arrived, Orban began to accuse Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros and groups linked to him of encouraging the migrants. In 2018, Hungary’s government introduced legislation known as the “Stop Soros” laws that would make it an offense to help people apply for asylum.

The European Court of Justice says Hungary has failed to fulfill its EU obligations “by criminalizing, in its national law, the actions of any person who, in connection with an organizing activity, provides assistance in respect of the making or lodging of an application for asylum in its territory…”

The Luxembourg-based court says the legislation restricts “the right of access to applicants for international protection and the right to communicate with those persons,” as well as the right of the migrants themselves to consult a legal advisor or counselor.

The court says the law cannot be justified by the aim of preventing “the assistance of misuse of the asylum procedure and of illegal immigration based on deception.”

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