Hungarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded from abroad will have to register themselves as foreign organizations. On 13 June, a law targeting foreign-funded non-governmental organizations was approved by the Hungarian National Assembly, origo.hu, a local news website, reports.
It affects those receiving more than 7.2 million forints ($26,000) per year from abroad, ordering them to declare their “foreign” status on their websites and in all media content and publications.
Fidesz, Hungarian Civic Alliance, the governing party, which has a comfortable majority in the Assembly (133 of 199 seats), fully supported and voted for the law.
Stefánia Kapronczay of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, who actively opposed the law, has already stated, that she will boycott the law, and that she will take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Like the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the purpose of the current Hungarian bill is to register and facilitate reporting and activities of such organizations. FARA requires organizations to report not only on financing from abroad, but also on all of their activities, providing sanctions in case of violations – up to 10,000 dollars penalty and imprisonment of up to five years.
The Hungarian authorities have long been struggling to prevent foreign meddling in political matters by foreign NGOs. Last spring, the Hungarian Parliament adopted amendments to the education bill. The law now permits the closure of the Central European University (CEU), funded by billionaire George Soros.
In his reaction, Soros accused the current Hungarian authorities of being “corrupted by the mafia”. In response, Victor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, said that this Soros’s statement amounts to “declaring war“. The Prime Minister also promised to continue fighting against NGOs that represent Soros’ “network of agents“, and that act against the people of Hungary.
The European Commission expressed concern about Hungary’s policy in relation to NGOs. Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-President of the European Commission, stated that on this matter, the Commission sees a need to start a political dialogue with the Hungarian government.
Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency