(Amnesty International) People and organisations working for a fair society in Hungary are in danger.
The Hungarian government tries to choke critical organisations who still dare to speak up against human rights violations. Their method: Proposing a set of laws that will make it extremely hard for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to continue their work to assist people in need and to protect the rights of others.
If the laws are adopted, people in Hungary risk losing access to important legal and social services, and even fewer organisations will be able to speak on their behalf if they are treated unfairly.
The proposed legislative package is part of a wider crackdown on human rights and civil society organisations in Hungary, which have now been under attack for several years. The government’s goal is simple and clear: to silence independent and openly critical NGOs. These include organisations such as Amnesty International Hungary, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, among many others.
These laws will create a climate of fear and suspicion
If the new legislation is adopted, the government will be able to control and restrict the activities of independent human rights organisations in Hungary. Instead of using their energy on supporting people in need, these organisations would be forced to spend their valuable time and money on bureaucracy and paperwork.
The government has presented these laws in the context of its wider anti-immigration campaign. In reality, these proposals have nothing to do with protecting national security or borders. They are a clear attempt to crush those working to assist people in need and to silence those who raise their voices.
The legislative package tabled to Parliament on 13 February, the so-called “Stop Soros” laws, would require national security clearance and a government permit for identified NGOs that the government deems as “supporting migration”. This would include work such as campaigning, ‘influencing courts’, preparing information materials, organising networks and recruiting volunteers with the goal of sponsoring, organising or otherwise supporting the entry and stay of people seeking international protection.
The laws would also require organisations to pay a tax of 25 per cent of any foreign funding aimed at ‘supporting migration’. Failure to meet these requirements could lead to exorbitant fines, bankruptcy, and the dissolving of the NGOs targeted.
The people who work for civil society, charities and NGOs in Hungary are working to build a fair society for the people of the country and for the world. Without their work, the world we live in would be a different place.
But right now the Hungarian government is trying to use the law to force many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to stop their work or risk fines, bankruptcy and even shut down. They are proposing legislation which means that they can control and restrict the work and funding of NGOs working on anything related to migration, including human rights organisations and people that provide legal and social services.
Why is this happening? We think it is because the government wants to silence and crush anyone who dare to raise their voice and criticize the authorities. This is creating a culture of suspicion and fear that will affect every person in Hungary. We can’t let this happen.
The NGOs at risk in Hungary need your support and solidarity.
Write a message now and tell these brave people and organisations that you support their crucial work in making Hungary a safe and fair place for all.
We will make sure the authorities get the message, too.
The government needs to see that we will not let them stamp on the people who work for a society based on love, not hate. There is still a chance the Hungarian parliament won’t pass the proposed laws, and before they vote we want to show them what civil society means to us all.
There isn’t a lot of time left, so please send your message of support now.
Read more about the legislative package:
- ECNL: Unofficial translation of the STOP Soros law
- ECNL analysis of Stop Soros: the ‘stop Soros’ draft laws target the wider CSO sector
- Liberties: 14 NGOs Bring ECHR Case Against New Anti-Civil Society Bill
- Opinion by UN Commissioner for human rights