Vienna, May 16 (MTI) – Two human rights experts of the United Nations have called on the Hungarian government to withdraw its proposed bill on the transparency of civil groups funded by foreign donors, the UN’s information service UNIS said on Tuesday.
The bill, if passed by parliament into law, would severely curtail the rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association in Hungary, special rapporteurs Michel Forst and David Kaye said in their joint statement, a copy of which was sent to MTI.
They said that financial transparency of NGOs is already ensured under current legislation in Hungary, insisting that the bill would only discriminate against, delegitimise and stigmatise civil organisations that receive part or all of their funding from abroad.
The rapporteurs further said that the bill, if adopted, “would have a chilling effect not only on expressions of peaceful dissent but also on the legitimate work of NGOs and individual human rights defenders scrutinizing government and exposing human rights violations”.
They said that the Hungarian prime minister and members of his government have made several derogatory remarks about NGOs receiving foreign funding particularly targeting those funded by US financier George Soros.
“Certain public remarks by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and other high ranking government officials on the activities of civil society raise serious concerns about the government’s commitment to basic freedoms in a democratic society,” they said.
Forst and Kaye urged the government to withdraw the bill and provide “a safe and enabling” environment for civil organisations in line with its international human rights obligations.
Under the proposal submitted in April NGOs receiving over 7.2 million forints (EUR 23,400) of funding from abroad should register each year at a court.