Monday, October 15, 2018

Living & sleeping on streets in Hungary now a jail offence

A constitutional amendment which bans people from living in public areas has come into force in Hungary, despite criticism from campaigners. The revision hands police the power to issue warnings to anyone seen living on the streets.
Penalties for homeless people who receive four warnings within 90 days include jail time or up to six months in a public works programme. The seventh amendment to the Basic Law, as Hungary’s constitution is now called, was passed by legislators in June. Besides the crackdown on homeless people, the amendment includes articles which greatly limit the chances of refugees receiving asylum.
The amendment is also meant to protect Hungary’s Christian culture Courts had declared an earlier attempt by prime minister Viktor Orban’s far-right government to outlaw homelessness to be unconstitutional. Writing the ban into the Basic Law makes it harder to challenge legally.
Advocates for the homeless say the ban and the threat of jail time for violators are unlikely to solve the issue of rough sleeping, especially when many of those on the streets need medical and psychological care most shelters can’t provide.
The Hungarian government says 9,800 places are available nationwide in shelters for overnight stays and 19,000 in total. It has recently allocated 9.1bn forints (£25m) to help the homeless. Unofficial estimates say Budapest’s homeless population is as high as 30,000 people. (THE INDEPENDENT)

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