“Hungary faces many interconnected human rights challenges,” said today Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after her five-day visit to Hungary last week. “The space for the work of NGOs, human rights defenders and journalists critical of the government has become very narrow and restricted.”
Human rights defenders and civil society organisations have been subjected to smear campaigns and targeted legislation on foreign funding, the promotion of migration and punitive taxes, to curtail their activities. “Taken as a whole, the legislative package reducing NGO space exercises a continuous chilling effect on the human rights work of civil society organisations and discourages them from carrying out their regular activities,” the Commissioner points out. “The government should reverse its worrying course affecting the human rights protection system in the country, repeal the harmful legislation, and restore an enabling environment conducive to the valuable work of human rights defenders, NGOs and independent media as necessary in democratic societies,” she says.
The Commissioner also noted the backsliding in women’s rights and gender equality in Hungary. Only 12.6% of members of the Parliament are women and Hungary holds the second last place in the 2017 Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality. “Hungary should take positive measures to improve gender equality and increase women’s participation in decision-making in all sectors.”