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3 May 2017

Council of Europe

Hungary: Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights raises concerns about draft NGO law

"COE Human Rights Commissioner calls on Hungary to reject draft NGO law", 3 May 2017

In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks urges the members of this Assembly to reject a proposed draft law on the Transparency of Organisations Supported from Abroad. The Commissioner notes that the draft law carries a clear risk of stigmatising a large number of organisations pursuing lawful activities in the field of human rights, causing a chilling effect on their activities. It introduces far-reaching restrictions on freedom of association, which cannot be regarded as necessary in a democratic society and are therefore at variance with international human rights standards. The draft law introduces an additional administrative burden on NGOs falling within its scope without an apparent legitimate purpose. In addition, according to criteria which are not immediately clear, the draft law excludes from its scope other types of NGOs, such as those pursuing sports or religious activities. The Commissioner further regrets the apparent absence of any meaningful public consultation or debate preceding the introduction of the draft law to the National Assembly on 7 April, against the backdrop of continued antagonistic rhetoric from certain members of the ruling coalition, who publicly labelled some NGOs as “foreign agents” based on their source of funding. Read the full letter from the Commissioner here