Hungary: Statement on the NGO Law

Validity (formerly MDAC) expresses its unequivocal opposition to legislation passed this month in Hungary which undermines the rule of law, freedom of association and respect for fundamental rights of independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in this country.

The law, which directly affects Validity and many other human rights organisations operating in Hungary, comes amid a concerted government campaign against NGOs who are working to defend the rights of people with disabilities, the Roma community, prisoners, the LGBT community, migrants and refugees, amongst others.

The “Law on the Transparency of Organisations Supported from Abroad” requires NGOs to register with courts and on a database as “an organization receiving foreign funds” if they receive more than 24,000 EUR in direct or indirect funding from abroad.

Hungarian NGOs must publicly declare this on everything they print or produce. They must report the details of individuals and organisations from outside Hungary who donate to their work.  We firmly believe this is a move designed to intimidate those who support human rights in this country.

The new law is the first of its kind in any EU country and sets a worrying precedent for the future. It has been criticised by experts at the United Nations and at the Council of Europe.

The European Commission is currently investigating whether the legislation breaches EU law protecting fundamental human rights. It has also provoked widespread opposition across civil society including among organisations defending these rights.

Moreover, it lacks a legitimate purpose given that Hungary already has some of the most stringent and onerous regulatory requirements in respect of NGOs in Europe.

MDAC already complies with these obligations but the new law will further drain our limited resources, reducing the support we can offer to victims of human rights violations such as the residents of Topház.

The adoption of this law in Hungary gives us grave concerns for the future of civil society and human rights in Hungary, including the rights of people with mental disabilities.

We call on the Government to acknowledge that it violates key provisions of the Hungarian Fundamental Law, the laws and principles of the European Union, and international human rights, especially the right to freedom of association. We strongly call for the law to be repealed and the Government to ensure that civil society in Hungary can act free from arbitrary regulation and oppression.

 

This article was originally published here.