Hungary bill seeks to stifle independent groups


A bill targeting nongovernmental organizations would force some groups that receive funding from outside Hungary to register as “foreign funded” and subject them to excessive sanctions and obligations, Human Rights Watch and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee said today:

The draft bill T/14967 on the Transparency of Organizations finance from Abroad published on April 7, will require nongovernmental organizations that receive more than €23,000 (7.2 million HUF) in foreign funding to register with a court as “foreign funded organizations.” …On June 8, parliament members of the ruling party Fidesz submitted amendments to the draft purporting to address the concerns of the Venice Commission. ….The draft bill bears a resemblance to Russia’s problematic “foreign agents law.” enacted in 2012, branding more than 100 organizations as foreign agents, forcing some to discontinue their work and others to face the real risk of being targeted by radical pro-government groups, creating a chilling effect on independent groups. A Russian activist is currently facing criminal charges in Russia over her alleged failure to register her organization as a foreign agent.

The draft bill comes on the heels of the government’s attempts to close down the Central European University (CEU) by having parliament adopt a law in April that specifically targets and endangers CEU’s operations in Hungary…… UN special rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and on the situation of human rights defenders in early May sent a joint letter to the Hungarian government expressing concerns about the bill.


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