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NGO clampdown in Hungary

Open Letter from Greens/EFA Co-Presidents


 

On Monday, 8 September 2014, the Hungarian state launched a full frontal attack against two of the four NGOs responsible for the distribution of Norway's NGO Grants in Hungary. The National Investigation Bureau (NBI), accompanied by special police forces, raided the offices of the Ökotárs Foundation and the Demnet Foundationand, confiscating laptops and computers. These actions came after threatening audits of the Norwegian funds, which are beyond the jurisdiction of the Hungarian authorities, and accusations of political bias. This latest part of a broad harassment of civil society in Hungary has been accompanied by a media smear campaign aimed at damaging the reputation and credibility of NGOs working to promote human rights, women’s rights, democracy, LGBTI rights and ethnic minority groups. It is just the latest of many measures that undermine the rule of law, human rights and democracy in the country. We think that this is a significant development in the dismantling of the rule of law in Hungary and is also a clear case of abuse of power as well as a threat to the entire NGO sector. Given these actions’ wider repercussions, we assume that the government’s underlying aim was to stop the last independent source of funding for NGOs present in the country and block independent, civil control. We are urging European Parliament President Schulz to investigate the facts as briefly described in the full letter below. Furthermore, we encourage President Schulz and all other groups to refer the issue to the Commission, asking for the application to Hungary of the new rule of law mechanism to prevent further deterioration of the situation.