Background note on the consequences of the Authorization Act | Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
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TAX NUMBER: 19013983-1-42

03 April 2020

The Authorization Act allows the Government to introduce significant restrictions, practically without any time limit, without any debate in the Parliament, and without any guarantee for the swift and effective constitutional review.

The Authorization Act (Act XII of 2020 on the Containment of the Coronavirus) provided the Hungarian Government with a carte blanche mandate without any sunset clause to suspend the application of Acts of Parliament, derogate from the provisions of Acts, and take other extraordinary measures until the “state of danger” declared by the Government is in place. Therefore, the Authorization Act fails to comply with the democratic set of criteria for a special legal order that also derives from Hungary’s Fundamental Law.

The Authorization Act does not include adequate guarantees and allows the Government to make use of the state of danger and violate fundamental rights or further restrict the possibilities of the opposition in the Parliament. The open-ended mandate granted by it is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the Government that systematically dismantled the system of checks and balances in Hungary in the past decade, and it provides yet another opportunity for the Government to override the constitutional limitations on its powers.

But what are consequences of the Authorization Act on a practical level? What can the Parliament and the Government do in this situation? Why would it have been important to strengthen the role of the Constitutional Court?

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s recent background note attempts to provide some insight in relation to these questions by discussing the following:

  1. What are the powers of the Parliament in the present situation?
  2. The special role of the Constitutional Court
  3. What kind of options did the Government have to contain COVID-19 without the Authorization Act?
  4. What can the Government do under the Authorization Act? – Here, we provide examples demonstrating that the Authorization Act allows the Government to introduce significant restrictions, practically without any time limit, without any debate in the Parliament, and without any guarantee for the swift and effective constitutional review of the respective decrees.

The background note may be downloaded here:

Background note on Act XII of 2020 on the Containment of the Coronavirus

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The German translation of the background note may be downloaded here:

Hintergrundinformation zu Gesetz XII von 2020 über die Eindämmung des Coronavirus

The French translation of the background note may be downloaded here:

Note d’information Sur la Loi XII de 2020 sur l’endiguement de du Coronavirus

 

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