The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected on Tuesday an appeal by radical nationalist Jobbik leader Gabor Vona, saying that Hungary had not violated the freedom of assembly and association when it banned the paramilitary-style Hungarian Guard.
The decision was made by a five-member judicial body on Monday but was announced on Tuesday.
In his appeal, Vona argued that the Hungarian Guard Association and the movement of the same name operated independently of each other. The Hungarian authorities, he added, had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the association violated anybody’s rights. He admitted that some people might find the ideals promoted by the association offensive, but they did not constitute incitement to hatred and were compatible with the principles of pluralism and tolerance in a democratic society.
Contrary to this, the European Court of Human Rights has established that the Hungarian Guard Movement functioned as part of the Hungarian Guard Association and the two were not independent of one another. The events organised by the movement were such that they provoked fear and their marches could be considered as initial steps in an attempt to introduce an “essentially racist” legal order.
The Stasbourg court said the Hungarian courts’ final conclusion that “the movement’s activities and manifestations were based on the racial conflict between Hungarian majority and Roma minority,” could not be considered arbitrary or unreasonable.
The court ruled that disbanding the Hungarian Guard Association was the only effective way of forestalling the dangers the Hungarian Guard Movement posed to others. The disbanding of the organisation was a drastic move by the authorities but the court settled the case in the “least violent manner,” the court ruled.
The Hungarian court ruled in the summer that it is an obligation for the state to act against such organisation because it fails to do so, it constitutes a silent approval of its operation.
The Strasbourg court noted that, other than disbanding the organisation, the Hungarian authorities had not imposed any sanctions against the association or its members. They were not hindered in pursuing their political activities and therefore the decision to disband the organisation is not excessive, the Strasbourg court ruled.