In mid-June, when the Hungarian ministry of justice was working on the seventh amendment to the constitution, aimed primarily at civic organizations, the Orbán government in the last minute added a new amendment (Article XXII[3]), which in its final form reads: “In order to protect public order, public security, public health and cultural values, an Act or a local government decree may, with respect to a specific part of public space, provide that staying in public space as a habitual dwelling shall be illegal.” The new law was to take effect on October 15. Since then, 101 people have received warnings and three were arrested. The real horror of the law becomes obvious only in the directives accompanying it. Here are some of the details. After three warnings within 90 days, the homeless person will be arrested and jailed while waiting for his sentencing, but if the homeless person is not cooperative, he can be jailed immediately. When can the police intervene? If the homeless person “is seen often and regularly within a limited time washing, dressing himself, or keeping a dog.” If arrested, he will spend a maximum of 72 hours in preliminary detention until the case is decided in court. In the first instance, the person can be reprimanded, sentenced to public work, or, in the case of a recidivist, given a jail term. The person will be responsible for all or part of the court costs.

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