May 29, 2018 / 1:23 PM / 2 years ago

Hungary to criminalise aiding illegal migration in 'Stop Soros' bill

Two soldiers stand in front of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, May 29, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Individuals or groups who help migrants not entitled to protection to submit requests for asylum or who help illegal migrants to gain status to stay in Hungary will be liable to jail under a new bill submitted to parliament on Tuesday.

The legislation is part of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban government’s campaign against George Soros, a Hungarian-born U.S. financier known for funding liberal causes.

The text of the legislation, known as the “Stop Soros” bill which was posted on parliament’s official website said: “Those who provide financial means ... or conduct this organisational activity on a regular basis will be punishable with up to one year in prison.”

“We need an action plan to defend Hungary and this is the STOP Soros package of bills,” the interior ministry said in the legislation.

It said there were international and also Hungarian organisations helping the entry of illegal migrants to Hungary and “sanctioning these is justified.” It did not name any groups.

In power since 2010, Orban has increased his control over the media and has campaigned on a platform of fierce hostility to immigration for years — policies that have put him at odds with the European Union, which funds Hungary with billions of euros a year.

Soros was publicly vilified during Orban’s campaign for April elections which Orban won in a landslide, securing a third straight term in office. His anti-immigration stance is particularly popular with voters in rural Hungary.

He has accused Soros and the NGOs funding him of plotting to undermine Hungary’s Christian culture by flooding it with immigrants, an allegation which Soros has repeatedly denied.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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