Hungary: LexNGO repealed but replacement very concerning

Hungary: LexNGO repealed but replacement very concerning

The Hungarian government has announced that it will repeal ‘LexNGO’, a dangerous law which stigmatizes and places restrictions on the independent work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  In February the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary, after finding that the Act breached EU law. Responding to the announcement, the Director of Amnesty International Hungary, Dávid Vig, said:

“The LexNGO law was a dangerous tool of Orban’s government, designed to silence independent NGOs which do vital work to hold the authorities to account and support vulnerable groups. It restricted their work on baseless grounds which were undoubtedly politically motivated.”

Director of Amnesty International Hungary, Dávid Vig

“While we welcome its withdrawal, we can’t drop our guard yet. The Hungarian government has already submitted a proposal to replace LexNGO with another bill which also threatens the independence and work of civil society. The new bill, which was submitted without any prior consultation, requires the State Audit Office to annually report on the financial status of NGOs which ’influence the public’ and potentially empowers the authorities to selectively audit them. This would impose an additional, unnecessary administrative burden on NGOs, and is clearly another attempt by the Hungarian government to make their work as difficult as possible.”

“The bill also discriminates against specific NGOs, as religious, sport and national minority organisations would be exempt. NGOs in Hungary are already required to operate transparently – this bill is just a new repressive tool for the government to further stigmatize and crush critical organisations.

“Amnesty International calls on the Hungarian authorities to ensure a meaningful consultation with NGOs before moving forward with new legislation, and ensure their feedback is taken into account. The authorities must end their crackdown on civil society, We call on the government to refrain from restricting and stigmatizing NGOs, and to guarantee an environment where they can freely and independently carry out their essential work without any fear of reprisals.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 
Amnesty International press office on [email protected] +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812  

Or Aron Demeter [email protected] +36 70 940 1043

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HUNGARY: living under the Sword of Damocles – the impact of the LexNGO on civil society in Hungary (Amnesty International statement)