Vona v Hungary: Freedom of association and assembly can be restricted to protect Minority Rights

This guest post was written by Judit Geller and Dezideriu Gergely, European Roma Rights Centre.

In the case of Vona v Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) openly stood up against racism and hatred when it ruled that if an association’s activities amounts to widespread racist intimidation of a group then the association can be banned lawfully without contravening to the European Convention of Human Rights. This is the first case when the Court ruled on the dissolution of an association under Article 11 of the Convention.

In its judgment delivered on 9 July 2013, the Court found that the dissolution of the Hungarian Guard Association (Magyar Gárda) by domestic courts was a lawful restriction of the applicant’s rights under Article 11 of the Convention. The court made the ruling on the basis that the activities of the Movement, which was part of the Association, included a series of paramilitary rallies in several villages with large Romani populations across Hungary and advocacy fsor racially-motivated policies, which intimidated the Romani population and violated their fundamental rights. The Court found that the Hungarian authorities were therefore entitled to take preventive measures to protect democracy and ban the Association.

Strasbourg Observers

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