Proposed legislation in Hungary to limit work of migration NGOs

Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban.

TMP – 28/02/2018

Hungary’s government has submitted a legislation package to parliament, which would grant the Interior Minister powers to levy higher taxes and put several restrictions on civil organizations that support migration to the country. The is move comes just ahead of national legislative elections which are set for 8 April.

NGOs that “sponsor, organise or otherwise support a third-country national’s entry or stay in Hungary via a safe third country in order to ensure international protection” qualify as organisations that support migration, the bill states. Organisations that undertake advocacy work, employ volunteers or produce and distribute information material are also included in the category.

Organisations that do fall under these aforementioned categories will only be able to continue their work if approved by the Hungarian Interior Ministry, who could deny permission if it saw a “national security risk”.
Imposing a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that help migration, and putting restraining orders on activists and campaigners who support migration and run activities that contradict with Hungary’s national security interests and are central components of the proposed laws.

International rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called the move a direct violation of the work and rights of civil society.

“A new bill which would penalize NGOs that support migration is a deeply disturbing and unjustified assault on civil society,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty’s Europe director said in a statement.

“In reality, these proposals have nothing to do with protecting national security or borders, and everything [to do] with muzzling those who work to assist people in need and dare to raise their voices.”

“These bills directed at people who support migrants are about smearing and silencing groups that help people in Hungary to secure their rights,” said Benjamin Ward, deputy director of Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch.

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