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Scarce-Mongering and Free Speech In Times of Covid-19 In Hungary

Fruzsina Gárdos-Orosz
Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies

In the spring of 2020, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Hungary as well. Within the framework of legislative precautions the version of the offence that could be committed during a special legal order was introduced by the Parliament as section 337(2) of the Criminal Code by Act XII of 2020 on the containment of Coronavirus, which can be committed in the mentioned period (e.g.: during a state of danger according to section 53 of the Fundamental Law), in front of a large audience by stating or disseminating any untrue fact or any distorted true fact that is capable of hindering or frustrating the efficiency of protection.

The Constitutional Court accepted the petition against the offence of spreading rumours defined in 2020, in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, which entered into force on 31 March 2020, and examined its merits. Decision of the Constitutional Court on scare-mongering, as the only substantive decision of the Constitutional Court, declared that the criminal offence in question does not violate freedom of expression and the principle of nullum crimen sine lege, because it does not contain elements that are inherently uninterpretable and inapplicable in the light of the practice of criminal courts, and the norm is sufficiently defined and constitutes a necessary and proportionate restriction of freedom of expression. I will examine in my presentation if this decision has changed the former doctrine of free speech by explaining a story of the related case law and doctrine.



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