More than 250 organisations and platforms from all over the world have signed a letter expressing their grave concern over the shrinking space for civil society in Hungary.
On 13 February 2018, the Hungarian government tabled to Parliament a proposed legislative pack of three laws, commonly referred to as “Stop Soros”. The newly proposed legislation would further restrict Hungarian civil society ability to carry out their work, by requiring organizations that “support migration” to obtain national security clearance and a government permit to perform basic functions. The proposed law would also require organizations to pay a tax of 25% of any foreign funding aimed at “supporting migration”. Failure to do so, would subject them to steps so serious that they could lead to exorbitant fines, bankruptcy, and the dissolving of the NGO involved.
These come in a context of already shrinking space for civil society in Hungary and contravene Hungary’s obligations under international law to protect the right to freedom of association, expression and movement.
We believe the new proposals represent the latest initiative in the Hungarian government’s escalating effort to crackdown on the legitimate work of civil society groups in Hungary seeking to promote and defend human rights, provide legal and social services to people in need in the country, and publicly express dissenting opinions in the press and online.
As defenders of rights and freedoms, we want people everywhere to be able to speak out without being attacked, threatened or jailed. Open debate on matters relating to government policies and practice is necessary in every society, and human rights defenders should not face criminalization for voicing their sometimes dissenting voices. Countries need to put laws in place which keep human rights defenders safe from harm, rather than introducing repressive laws that aim to silence those who speak out.
Human rights defenders defend the rights of people in their own communities and their countries, and in doing so they protect all of our rights, globally. Human rights defenders are often the last line of defence for a free and just society and undertake immense personal risks and sacrifices to do their work.
We stand in solidarity with civil society and human rights defenders in Hungary.
They are courageous people, committed to creating a fairer society. Without their courage, the world we live in would be less fair, less just and less equal.
We are calling on the Hungarian Parliament to reject the proposed laws in their entirety and let the NGOs and defenders continue their work, instead of defending themselves against such attacks.