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Hungary: Commissioner concerned at further planned barriers to the work of NGOs assisting migrants

Statement
Strasbourg 01/06/2018
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Hungary: Commissioner concerned at further planned barriers to the work of NGOs assisting migrants

“The draft legislation (Bill No. T/333) recently submitted by the Hungarian government to the Parliament, which provides for criminal law sentences, including imprisonment, for those ‘facilitating illegal immigration’ constitutes a worrying human rights development”, said today Commissioner Mijatović. “If adopted, the new provisions would result in further arbitrary restrictions to the indispensable work of human rights NGOs and defenders and leave migrants without the essential services provided by such NGOs.

The proposed package allows for the criminalisation of activities which should be fully legitimate in a democratic society and will inevitably have a chilling effect on any individuals or organisations offering assistance to migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees. It follows a number of legal measures and stigmatising government rhetoric targeting actors who carry out professional and important work in Hungary, including in the field of human rights.

I am also alarmed that the new provisions will impact negatively on the human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers. By impeding the work of NGOs that currently provide vital legal assistance and information about asylum procedures, the new provisions effectively thwart the realisation of the right to seek asylum. Measures of this kind are also likely to incite xenophobia against migrants and mistrust of those committed to helping them.

I call on the Hungarian authorities to drop this Bill. They should refrain from taking any measures penalising, stigmatising or putting at any disadvantage NGOs working in the field of migration and restore an enabling environment conducive to the work of human rights defenders. I also urge the Hungarian authorities to fully abide by their international human rights obligations and show a more humane approach to the needs of asylum seekers and all migrants.”