On behalf of the Conference of INGOs and its Expert Council on NGO Law, we share the concerns expressed by Mr Yves Cruchten, PACE Rapporteur on inappropriate restrictions on NGOs, about the new package of draft laws (so-called “Stop Soros package) in Hungary. We believe that this legislation “would increase pressure on NGOs defending Human Rights” and we call for implementation of PACE and CM recommendations relating to the legal status of NGOs and the freedom of association.
The analyses made by Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Eötvös Károly Institute raise red flags with regard to freedom of association, particularly for NGOs which deal with migrants. The new category of “organisation supporting illegal migration” will lead to further stigmatisation and distrust of civil society organisations. This will be a major obstacle to their activities. Public authorities, also in Hungary, should recognise the essential and valuable role of NGOs without which they would not have been able to cope with the migration crisis. The NGOs provide services but also ensure that the rights of migrants and refugees, protected under international treaties, are respected in dignified and respectful conditions of reception.
Those NGOs targeted do not focus only on migration and refugees; they also provide services to the public affected by other vulnerabilities. The draft laws could have the consequence of decreasing the services available for all vulnerable people in Hungary. Civil society organisations are already impacted by the restrictive measures undertaken under the Law on foreign-funded organisations (ActLXXVIof2017). The Expert Council on NGOs Law expressed its Opinion regarding this regulation and confirmed its negative impact on the rights of free expression and association. The continuing pressure on human rights organisations in Hungary makes it increasingly difficult for them to carry out their advocacy and service missions.
The Conference of INGOs will continue to follow the situation and support Hungarian civil society in defending fundamental rights in Hungary.
Anna Rurka, President of the Conference of INGOs
Cyril Ritchie, President of the Expert Council on NGO Law
Council of Europe's Conference of INGOs - Expert Council on NGO Law, Opinion on the Hungarian Draft Act on the Transparency of Organisations Supported from Abroad (24/4/2017);
Council of Europe's Conference of INGOs, Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process - Fact Finding Visit in Hungary - Report on the visit - Comments on the report by the Hungarian Government (20-22/11/2016)
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2162 (2017), Alarming developments in Hungary: draft NGO law restricting civil society and possible closure of the Central European University 27/4/2017);
Council of Europe Venice Commission, Opinion on the Draft Law on the Transparency of Organisations receiving support from abroad (16-17/6/2017)
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Commissioner calls on Hungary’s National Assembly to reject law on foreign-funded NGOs (3/5/2017)