Hungary Cracks Down On Foreign Funding, Dealing A Harsh Blow

Hungary has been declare to Europe’s very first illiberal democracy, an result. That the prime Minister Viktor Orban all but promised in the past few years.

On June 13, Hungary’s Parliament approved a widely-criticized bill, called the Transparency of Organisations Assisted by Foreign Funds. Which increases the control of non-governmental organisations which receive funding from abroad in law.

The law requires organizations which have receive greater than 7.2 millions Hungarian forints (around $ 26,000). From foreign entities or individuals to be list in a register and required to make public statements the amount they receive as foreign funding. Foreign donors to identify.

Organizations that do not comply may face financial penalties or even shut down. In Budapest in the middle of April thousands of people protested against the law. And to support NGO’s, which are under attack in Poland. Because the Polish government is trying to regulate the funding for civil society.

Amnesty International, whose branch in Hungary directly affect by the law. Described the legislation the latest in an escalating crackdown on critical voices. And will hamper critically important work by civil society groups.

Show Of The Authoritarian Stance Hungary

Orban’s strategy targets civil society by imposing crippling laws and regulations. Which are present as technical requirements necessary to enhance transparency or security for the nation.

Similar rules across the world show that this is usually an unintentionally authoritarian approach. Which limits freedom of association and voice and silence of critics.

The government has acknowledged this. In January of 2017, Szilard Nemeth, a right-wing politician who is also a deputy chair of the parliament’s. The national security panel, was quote as a source in the Guardian newspaper. As well as in Reuters as declaring that the proposed law targeted organizations. That receive funds from groups that are a part of the American-Hungarian businessman and philanthropist George Soros. The George Soros-owned Open Society Foundations supports pro-democracy groups across the globe.

In April 25 the government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs made reference at the danger of so-called NGOs specifically. He mentioned the Open Society Foundations funded organizations that deal with immigration concerns.

The law that governs civil society is a follow-up to a fast-track law that targets the foundation of Soros Central European University. Which could force the prestigious university to abandon Budapest. Soros protested by describing the Orban government as a mafia state.

A Long-Standing Tactic Hungary

The restriction of foreign funding is an increasingly popular method for governments to thwart the civil society. According to the International Centre for Non-Profit Law discovered that 36%. The restrictive civil society laws that were enact. Worldwide between 2012 and 2015. targeted international funds.

International standards stipulate that organizations can freely seek to receive. Accept and utilize international or foreign funding and not be brand as a negative for doing so.

Since the beginning of 2016, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Human Rights Council had already expressed. Concerns over the current increase in restrictions on funding. The Carnegie Endowment of Peace’s Thomas Carothers, an expert in the subject. Describes the attack on foreign funds as being the leading edge of wider crackdowns on civil society.

Around the world activists are operating under increasingly risky conditions and are subject to physical attacks, threats and assassination. In April, the president of the international organization CIVICUS declared the state of civil society as a global emergency.

Hungarian Government’s Strategy Hungary

According to the Hungarian government’s strategy to foreign policy. It is clear that the foreign tag is a negative image for both donors. And NGOs, according to Transparency International. This implies the idea that everything that is foreign is necessarily against the Hungarian nation and could represent foreign interests

In the case of Amnesty International, the bill bears echoes of the harsh foreign agents law. That was enacted during the administration of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which has shut down. Restricted or silenced more than 150 Russian human rights and social justice groups in the last two years.

As was noted in 2013 in 2013 by Maina Kiai UN Special Rapporteur on the right to liberty of assembly as well as association as noted in 2013, the Russian phrase foreign agent or foreign agent is synonymous with the term foreign spy.

A 2012 Russian law introduce increasingly severe legal sanctions against civil society organizations and the 2015 undesirables law that allows organizations to be shut down and people to be fine or detain for violating foreign agents law.

Seven non-profit groups were later classify as undesirable, including The National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society Foundations, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs as well as in April of this year the organization that run by the former Russian jailer for conviction Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

A Reaction From The European Union Reacts

It is report that the European Commission and European Parliament vice president express their concerns regarding the Hungarian law’s incompatibility with EU laws while it was still in draft form.

Prior analyses jointly conducted through The European Centre for Non-Profit Law and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, together with other NGOs, suggested that the law in question is not compliant with EU laws on the prevention of money laundering and financing terrorists and also the laws that allow for the freedom of circulation of capital.

The government has provided no evidence, it claimed, to show that NGOs are at risk of laundering money or financing of terrorists or that its existing transparency measures are not sufficient.

In spite of all evidence, Viktor Orban has repeatedly reiterate that the law governing NGO was enact to increase transparency, claiming that it is based on the American law.

Human Rights Watch Noted

However, according to Human Rights Watch noted, this argument that hungary Russia has also used in 2012, is a reference to the US Foreign Agent Registration Act which covers those organisations and individuals that operate under direction and control of a foreign principle. This does not apply to advocacy-oriented NGOs that have international donors.

The passage of the law places on the EU in a dilemma. The member states have significantly weakened rights to freedom of expression and association.

In interacting and collaborating with the Hungarian government in the last months, and particularly in April, the announcement of violations of the Higher Education Law that targeted the Central European University, the Commission and the European Parliament have emphasised the importance of these fundamental freedoms.

However, if the bloc wants to keep claiming the claim of being a united state. Built on democratic principles, it will need to not just express worries. If it fails to safeguard and defend the democratic values within its borders could compromise the EU’s credibility. When it comes to be a credible force in the view of its own citizens and the rest of the world.