Criticism of Hungary by the Venice Commission after acceptance of its proposals regarding the law on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs is “baffling”, the justice ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Hungary cooperated extensively with the Council of Europe body before the law was passed and timed the parliamentary vote on the bill so that its preliminary opinion could be taken into consideration, the statement said. Parliament subsequently accepted three of the five proposals in the preliminary opinion, it said.
The ministry called it “prejudiced” that in the press release on the VC’s web site the commission announced it would soon send a delegation to Hungary to review the amendment of the higher education law “sanctioning the closing of the university founded by George Soros”. The press release said the delegation would prepare another opinion on this law.
The Venice Commission, the CoE’s legal advisory body, adopted an opinion on the Hungarian law on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOS on Friday. The law passed this week only partly satisfies the preliminary opinion’s main recommendations, the commission said.
It acknowledged that the aim of ensuring transparency of NGOs in order to prevent undue foreign political influence, money laundering and terrorism-financing was legitimate in principle.
“However, the commission stressed that this legitimate aim may not be used to stigmatise NGOs or restrict their ability to carry out their activities. This effect would go beyond the legitimate aim of transparency,” according to the opinion.