Cabinet chief denies “campaign” against civil society
Budapest (MTI) – In a letter to Amnesty International Hungary on Wednesday, cabinet chief Janos Lazar rejected AI’s charges of a campaign of “harassment and intimidation” against civil organisations.
According to the letter, published on the government’s website, the Hungarian authorities simply “do their job” of enforcing effective regulations when they probe organisations managing public funds.
Lazar insisted that the “strongest” civil organisations were “at a distance” from the whole of society and had developed a practice of “distributing the scarce funds available among themselves”. That practice can be considered “neither legitimate nor fair”, he said, and added that “not even civil groups are above the law”.
Last year, the government control office Kehi raised complaints against a dozen organisations, Lazar said, and insisted that the probes seek to “eliminate the black sheep” from a flock of 80,000 such groups.
In a study published on its website on February 2, AI said that in 2014 Kehi had checked on 59 organisations, several of which became “targets of a long series of attacks by the government”. The government’s actions had a “chilling effect on the right to assembly and restricted the room of manoeuvre for civil organisations”, AI said. The study added that the target groups were charged with criminal activities, while a “hostile media campaign” was launched to “ruin their reputation”.