Solidarity with Hungarian Helsinki Committee
The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights wishes to express its solidarity with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and all civil society activists in Hungary who will be affected by the consequences of the so-called Stop Soros legislative package that was voted into law by the Hungarian Parliament last week.
According to the new legislation, activities taken in support of illegal migration are subject to a prison term of up to one year. The new law does not specifically explain what kind of activities result in the assumption of criminal liability, which means that penalties may be imposed for actions such as the provision of legal aid to asylum seekers or preparation of information on asylum laws and regulations. The new Hungarian legislation was criticised in the latest opinion of the Venice Commission, which stated that the newly adopted laws violated international human rights standards.
The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights firmly opposes any attempt to criminalise the provision of legal aid to migrants: under no circumstances, offering help, solidarity or support for victims of humanitarian crises should be considered a criminal offence.
Moreover, the legislative package that imposes restrictions on aid for migrants follows the footsteps of the so-called “foreign agents law” and leads to the closing down of space for operations of non-governmental organisations. Other legislative proposals are equally alarming: for example, there is a law that, if enacted, will impose a 25% tax on donations offered for Hungarian organisations offering aid for migrants. Hungarian human rights NGOs are constantly pressurised by authorities and are targeted by a relentless smear campaign orchestrated by public media outlets and private news organisations sympathetic to the government.
Systemic and unreasonable restrictions of operations of civil society organisations are contrary to the fundamental principles of a democratic state ruled by law and enable the introduction of an unchecked dictatorship of the majority. In times of rapidly shrinking space for the civil society, we stand united with our Friends in Hungary. We admire their human rights achievements, commitment and courage.