President Sólyom and domestic violence

President Sólyom doesn't seem to be too concerned, although according to Hungarian sociologists every week at least one woman dies as a result of domestic violence. And that statistic doesn't include old people and children who are abused or even killed. There was something on the books allegedly dealing with the issue, but it was totally ineffectual. Police couldn't act on the spot and weeks might go by before the case ended up in court. By that time, the plaintiff could be dead. Moreover, the police rarely acted. They simply didn't want to get involved in "family squabbles." It was, for example, totally useless to call the police and report threats. The answer was: as long as there is no blood no action can be taken. I remember one specific case when such threats were uttered by a young boy against a young girl. The girl's family reported the situation. The police did nothing. A few days later the girl was dead.

A new piece of legislation passed by an overwhelming majority of the parliament (374 yes votes and only four abstentions) on December 15, 2008. The proposal was drafted by six SZDSZ members, two of whom, Klára Sándor and Bálint Magyar, were especially active. They were the ones who acted as spokesmen and who argued in the media about the necessity of such legislation. They were, of course, very pleased by the practically unanimous vote. Basically, the bill introduced the widely used practice outside of Hungary of a restraining order or protective order. That is, the police, upon reports and obvious signs of physical abuse, are able on the spot to remove the aggressor for at least 72 hours and upon getting a court order the aggressor can be kept away from the victim for at least three months.

The bill went to President Sólyom who refused to sign it and who sent it to the Constitutional Court. According to him the bill is unconstitutional because the Hungarian Constitution [58. § (1)] provides the right to choose one's place of residence. Therefore, the aggressor cannot be prevented from residing wherever he pleases and, I guess, can beat the living daylights out of the woman who shares the dwelling with him. Moreover, continues Sólyom, let's assume that he is either the sole owner or joint owner of the dwelling the couple occupies. In this case the bill is unconstitutional because the Hungarian Constitution states in 13. § (1) that the Republic of Hungary guarantees the right of private property. In his accompanying letter he also mentioned that no new bill was necessary because, after all, in the criminal code there are twenty-six references to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that are also applicable to domestic violence.

Thus, according to Sólyom, the right to property and the right of freedom of movement are more important than the right of human life. An interesting concept. No wonder that Klára Sándor and Bálint Magyar called Sólyom's argument cynical. Gyurcsány in his blog expressed his surprise at Sólyom's refusal to sign the bill. I must say that by now I'm not surprised by anything Sólyom does. As I said earlier, the problem is that the judges sitting on the Constitutional Court will most likely accept Sólyom's arguments because they bow before the "authority" of the former chief justice.

I like both Klára Sándor and Bálint Magyar too much to remind them that Sólyom's nomination was enthusiastically supported by SZDSZ four years ago. I'll bet by now they are a great deal less enthusiastic. This man with the help of the Constitutional Court is managing to send Hungary down the road of what Ferenc Gyurcsány called "conservative fundamentalism." The consequences of these decisions unfortunately have lasting effects on the country.


  1. Thank God (or whoever is in charge) for Solyom and the Constitutional Court. They have successfully prevented such idiotic legislation as the so-called “hate speech” and other nonsense coming out of the ultra-liberal, anti-freedom activists of SZDSZ.
    Why do liberals hate liberty so much?
    Limitless support for any minorities, including feminazis should not be on the top of the agenda these days. The government and the clowns in the big circus (Parliament) are completely out of touch with reality. They don’t have one useful idea on how to deal with real problems, so they make fake ones and act busy. Out with the bums, we need a few good men to take over. We have existing laws, why don’t we enforce them instead of making new ones?
    Violence is already illegal, why call it “hate crime” or “love crime”?
    The real criminals are protected by immunity anyway, so what’s the point?

  2. i get what you’re saying Op, but you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. The most libertarian country has used restraining orders for decades. No doubt lives have been saved. Male lives too, be they children or adults.
    re Solyom’s decision:
    if there is a hierarchy of rights surely right to life is the highest level right possible? I can’t exercise any other rights unless I live.

  3. I have no problem with protecting the innocent.
    There are already laws in place to do just that.
    We have to be careful with new laws. They must be very specific and fair to both sides, not leaving much room for abuse. I’ve seen examples of false accusations leading to innocent men losing their homes and pretty much everything. Courts tend to protect women based on little or fake “evidence”. Women can be very calculating and evil. Equal protection is fine, loose or one-sided laws can create even more trouble.
    The state should pay more attention to prevent domestic violence. An IQ test and a one-year mandatory waiting period before marriage would be helpful…

  4. Op, did the proposed law stipulate that only men can be kept away? I don’t think so. I understand your worries, however, and since the majority of judges are women, the chances are this system will be abused. However, for the greater good i.e. saving lives this law is necessary.
    Ricsi: LOL

  5. Interesting argument of Mr. Solyom,that the constitution guarantees one’s right to choose your place of residence. Does that also mean:
    1. That you can’t lock up prisoners (as they violates their constitutional right to choose their place of residence?
    2. That every foreigner has the right to take residence in Hungary, as the constitution guarantees him that right?

  6. Leeflang: “Interesting argument of Mr. Solyom,that the constitution guarantees one’s right to choose your place of residence. Does that also mean: 1. That you can’t lock up prisoners (as they violates their constitutional right to choose their place of residence?”
    An excellent point. I’m beginning to think that Mr. Sólyom isn’t as sharp as he thinks he is. I can’t believe that one of the judges of the American Supreme Court would come up with such simplistic constitutional justification.

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