10 September 2012
On 23 December 2011, MPs and activists of the opposition party Politics Can be Different (Lehet Más a Politika, LMP) formed a human chain around the Parliament, chaining themselves to objects at the entrance of the building in protest against Government Bills in their view threatening democracy, due to be voted on that day. The demonstrators were detained by the police on charges of suspicion of “violation of personal liberty”, a criminal offence carrying a sanction of up to 3 years of imprisonment, and may be committed by a person “who denies someone their personal liberty”.
The HHC shortly issued a press release, claiming that criminal charges on account of “violation of personal liberty” against protesting MPs and activists run counter to human logic, and, together with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), offered free legal assistance to activists detained by the Police. Criminal proceedings continued against the protesters, but on 17 February 2012, the Government proposed amnesty for the protesters. The MPs of the LMP refused the idea of amnesty alleging that they did not commit a crime, and both the HHC and the HCLU stated that instead of granting amnesty, criminal proceedings should be terminated due to the fact that no criminal offence was committed. However, on 5 March 2012 the parliamentary majority adopted Act XII of 2012 on Exercising Amnesty (Amnesty Act), which entered into force on 10 March 2012. The protesters claimed that the Amnesty Act violated their rights enshrined in the Fundamental Law of Hungary and in the European Convention on Human Rights, since the text of the Amnesty Act states that they have committed a criminal offence, even though no judicial decision was reached in their case, and, thus, violates their right to reputation and the presumption of innocence. Eleven protesters, represented by the HHC and the HCLU submitted constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court of Hungary and submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights.