THE Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has faced criticism
by MEPs and the European Commission over his moves to reintroduce
the death penalty in the former Soviet-bloc country.
At a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday
evening, the Commission's first vice-president, Frans Timmermans,
reminded MEPs that the death penalty is outlawed under the European
Convention on Human Rights, and also under EU law. The right to
life is one of the "fundamental values and principles of the
European Union", he said.
The Commission "would not hesitate" to impose a "sanctions
mechanism" if Hungary moved to reinstate the death penalty.
Mr Orbán said that members of the EU had the right to seek
changes to the EU's statement of fundamental rights, which were
written by man, and were not commandments from God.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said
that "there are no commandments in the EU rules. But there are
other commandments, including 'Thou shalt not kill.'"
At a press conference at the end of the debate, Mr Orbán
described the European Parliament's criticism of Hungary as being
"like a ritual". He said: "A religious ritual has a purpose, but
questioning democracy in Hungary for the 16th time serves no
Hungary was a Christian country, Mr Orbán said, and the
reintroduction of the death penalty was not about punishment, but
about saving lives. "The question is whether it is a good instinct
to save the lives that still exist; to save the lives of the
innocent, who do not want to become the victims of the
He said that he expected a "ten-year dialogue" with EU
institutions before Hungary could reintroduce the death