Opposition MPs, fined for disrupting Hungary’s parliament with anti government banners, will find out next week if the sanction breached European human rights law.
The European Court of Human Rights’ decisions on the complaint Karácsony and Others v. Hungary (application no. 42461/13) and Szél and Others v. Hungary (no. 44357/13) are expected on Tuesday 16 September.
The cases concern complaints by members of the Hungarian Parliament of two opposition parties about having been fined for gravely disturbing Parliament’s work.
The applicants in the first case, Gergely Karácsony, Péter Szilágyi, Dávid Dorosz, and Rebeka Katalin Szabó, were born in 1975, 1981, 1985, and 1977 respectively and live in Budapest. They are members of the party Párbeszéd Magyarországért.
The applicants in the second case, Bernadett Szél, Ágnes Osztolykán, and Szilvia Lengyel, were born in in 1977, 1974, and 1971 and live in Budakeszi, Budapest and Gödöllő respectively. They are members of the LMP party.
During a parliament session in April 2013, two of the applicants in the first case presented a billboard with the words ‘FIDESZ [the governing party]. You steal, you cheat and you lie.’ During the final vote on a law amending certain smoking-related acts in May 2013, two of the applicants showed a billboard stating ‘Here operates the national tobacco mafia.’
The applicants in the second case protested against a controversial legislative proposal on the transfer of agricultural lands, during the final vote on the bill in June 2013, by placing a small wheelbarrow filled with soil on a table in front of the Prime Minister and by displaying a banner with a slogan critical of the bill.
The applicants were fined between 170 euros (EUR) and EUR 600, respectively, for gravely disturbing Parliament’s work. The fines were proposed by the Speaker of Parliament and adopted by the plenary without a debate.
The applicants complain that the decisions to fine them violated their rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, stating in particular that the measure was meant to discourage open debate and stressing that they did not endanger the functioning of Parliament.
Relying on Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) read in conjunction with Article 10, they further complain that under Hungarian law they did not have any remedy available in respect of that complaint.
They finally allege a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), submitting that they were discriminated against on account of their political opinions.