Human Rights Defenders in Hungary: not yet ‘foreign agents’ but getting close

June 13, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, expressed its concern that the Hungarian government is alarmingly shrinking the space of civil society by hindering their access to funding, conducting unexpected inspections and blacklisting prominent human rights organizations. The Observatory – not by accident – did so on 12 June 2014, the day the Hungarian Government was meeting representatives from a group of donor Governments including Norway.OMCT-LOGOlogo FIDH_seul

The Observatory states that since its re-election in April, the Hungarian Government has led a smear campaign against Hungarian human rights NGOs and is striving to gain control over them or silence them by hindering their access to funding. “The recent moves undertaken by the government to restrain civil society’s action echoes Putin’s Russia recent attempts to silence dissenting voices, speaking out for the respect of human rights” commented FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

For example, on 30 May, 2014, the Government made public the list of 13 grant recipients it considered to be problematic for their “left-leaning” political ties. These were all organisations working on anti-corruption, human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech (including well-known Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transparency International and the investigative journal

OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock said: “By labelling human rights groups as political groups acting against national interest, Hungary is acting in ways known of authoritarian regimes. Freedom of expression and association in a democratic society include dissent and at times controversial debates on human rights”.

[All this against the backdrop of the Government  pushing though a restrictive Media Law and constitutional reforms that were met with severe criticism by NGOs and international organisations, including the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.]

Hungary: Attacks against civil society must stop / June 12, 2014 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

3 Responses to “Human Rights Defenders in Hungary: not yet ‘foreign agents’ but getting close”

  1. […] ‘Some HRDs in Hungary, especially those working for foundations that distribute foreign funding, have been subject to police raids and criminal investigations. More generally, HRDs working for major watchdog NGOs, including the HCLU, have been subject to unlawful investigations by Government agencies and often face stigmatisation by the Government, being labelled as “serving foreign interests”.’ Attila explained that administrative burdens and harassment by authorities increased the HCLU’s workload, requiring capacity-building and increased fund-raising efforts. see also:… […]

  2. […] a bill that NGOs say stigmatizes them and is intended to stifle independent voices. [see also:…]. Poland instead introduced legislation to set up a centralised authority […]

  3. […] See also my earlier post:… […]

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