Court reprimands police for banning bikers during Holocaust memorial
The Budapest police’s recent ban on a far-right motorcycle demonstration which would have coincided with the March of the Living was illegitimate, according to a Wednesday decision by the municipal court of labour and administration. In its justification, the court said that the police ban had been based on “unjustified presumptions”, and added that the police had also missed the deadline before which such a prohibition could be imposed. The court said the police should have passed a decision to ban the planned rally within two days after the organisers submitted their notice. Failing to do so means permission has been granted, it said.
The court also said that if the police had suspected motives behind the event such as “cynically mocking the memory of Holocaust victims” or “using loopholes in the law” they should have clarified those doubts on receiving the bikers’ notice. The police ban prevented people who wished to attend the far-right demonstration from exercising their right of assembly and expression, the court said, and annulled the prohibition. According to the justification, police decisions concerning the right of assembly, a fundamental right, should be made “without overstepping the police’s scope of authority, and based solely on considerations of legal and professional requirements”.
On April 20, the police rejected the nationalist bikers’ request for a rally in the city centre the next day for the second time. Just as in the first instance, the ban was prompted by an instruction from Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the interior minister to prevent the demo, which would have been staged under the banner “Give gas”.
On April 8, when the prime minister intervened for the first time, he said that no event should be held on the day of the March of the Living which could harm the human dignity of participants in that event.
The bikers appealed the first ban in court, but their plea was rejected.