ALERT / HUNGARY:  Restrictive NGO law adopted by Hungarian Parliament

Alerts, Hungary, Shrinking Space for Civil Society

This Tuesday 13 June, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law restricting further the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Hungary. This law requires for NGOs receiving more than 24,000 Euros (7.2 million HUF) annually from a foreign source, to disclose their foreign donors. In addition, NGOs will need to publicise the donors’ labels on all publications (website, advertisements, etc.). Those who fail to do so will receive a preliminary warning and could be fined or suspended from operating for at least five years.

EuroMed Rights and the European Association for human rights are very concerned by this legislation that could seriously harm civil society in Hungary. The law, drafted without consultation of independent civil society, was justified on grounds of transparency and aims at targeting money laundering and terrorism funding. We fear that the authorities will use it as an attempt to silence and discredit civil society organisation (CSOs). Indeed, CSOs, especially those that work on human rights-related issues, might find themselves unable to obtain state funding, and thus heavily stigmatised and hampered for receiving foreign funding. Over the past few months, the situation has become more alarming than ever, given that the Hungarian government has been increasingly critical of dissent, particularly against voices calling for the promotion and protection of rule of law, the rights of refugees and migrants and the provision of social and legal assistance to vulnerable groups.

EuroMed Rights and the European Association for human rights urge the EU to step up pressure on Hungary to uphold principles and values of the Union, including its international obligations with regard to freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression and information, as enshrined in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The fight against terrorism cannot be used to legitimise intimidation against CSOs, causing the operating space for NGOs to shrink even more dramatically. The European Council should consider the launch of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure, as already requested by the European Parliament.

Read the European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the situation in Hungary.