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The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is seriously concerned for the future of Hungarian NGOs working for the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights, for marginalized groups and transparency. Legislation which has recently been proposed by the Hungarian Government will, possibly unconstitutionally, target and paralyze non-government organisations that receive grants from foreign funds.
Human rights and the rule of law in Hungary have been under sustained attack since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took power in 2010, reveals FIDH in a new report released today. FIDH urges the government to halt this assault and calls for a strong and prompt reaction by the European Union, up to the activation of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which could lead to the suspension of Hungary’s rights under the Treaties. NHC is a Norwegian member of the international network of human rights organisation FIDH.
In late January and beginning of February, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee conducted a fact-finding mission to Hungary. Due to recent concerns on threats to democratic rule in Hungary, expressed both by Hungarian and international observers, the NHC wanted to get a better understanding of current legal and political developments in the country. This report presents the findings from the mission, and contains the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's recommendations to the Government of Hungary, the European Union and to the Norwegian Government.
The report "Democracy and human rights at stake in Hungary", published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) on 23 January
2013, describes how Viktor Orbán’s government centralised power after taking office in 2010 by undermining the independence
of courts and putting media freedom under pressure.
The report was met with considerable criticism from Hungarian authorities, claiming that it overlooked important factors, exaggerated problems, was biased against the current government, and neglected its concessions to international criticism and Constitutional Court decisions. In particular, Hungary’s ambassador to Norway, Mr Géza Jeszensky, issued a 4 ½ page critical letter to the NHC outlining his government’s response, while Ferenc Kumin, Deputy State Secretary for International Communication, responded very negatively to the report in his blog.
In this Q&A, the NHC outlines its position on some of the main points raised in these discussions. In addition, some comments are given to the extensive amendments of the Fundamental Law (the Constitution) of 11 March 2013. The amendments caused renewed concerns that the government’s project of centralisation is ongoing despite strong domestic and international criticism.
A new report published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, 'Democracy and human rights at stake in Hungary', describes how Viktor Orbán’s government is centralizing power, undermining the independence of courts and putting media freedom under pressure. – Until recently, Hungary was seen as one of the most successful of the new democracies, but in a short time democratic standards have deteriorated to a degree few thought was possible, said Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.