Timeline of the series of governmental attacks against Hungarian NGOs, which constitute another step in the process aimed at establishing an “illiberal state” in Hungary
Since the elections in 2010, the current governing party has systematically undermined the rule of law in Hungary, seriously disrupting the system of checks and balances. The adoption of the new constitution without the consent of the opposition and the widely criticized media regulation were followed by legislative steps weakening independent institutions (e.g. the Constitutional Court, the judiciary and the Ombudsman system) and violating human rights (e.g. the right to fair trial) in mass numbers. These legislative steps were accompanied by the early removal of leaders of independent institutions and the “court-packing” of the Constitutional Court. As shown by the international criticism e.g. on behalf of the European Union and the Council of Europe, several rules adopted by the governing majority are not in compliance with democratic values and international standards. The series of governmental attacks against Hungarian NGOs, which organizations operate by their nature as checks and critics of the state power and fight for reinforcing the rule of law and ensuring the protection of human rights, is another step in the process aimed at establishing an “illiberal state”.
These attacks included condemning public statements by high-ranking state officials (including the Prime Minister) alleging that some NGOs are closely linked to political parties and/or serve “foreign interests”; an illegitimate state audit by the Government Control Office into the use of the EEA/Norway Grants NGO Fund; criminal procedures launched against members of the consortium of NGOs distributing the EEA/Norway Grants NGO Fund; a police raid of their offices (later found unlawful by the investigation judge); and the suspension of their tax numbers. Even though the official proceedings launched as part of the governmental attacks against the Hungarian consortium of NGOs distributing the EEA/Norway Grants NGO Fund and organizations supported by the NGO Fund ceased or were terminated (without any criminal charges brought) by the beginning of 2016, critical and threatening statements from the government and the governing parties against human rights and watchdog NGOs continued, primarily targeting NGOs supported by the Open Society Foundations.
On 7 April 2017, governing party MPs submitted to the Hungarian Parliament Bill T/14967 on the Transparency of Organizations Receiving Foreign Funds, setting out for example that organizations receiving foreign funds over a certain yearly threshold will have to register themselves and will have to label themselves as organizations receiving foreign funds on their website and in their publications, and foreseeing sanctions in case of non-compliance. The Bill was adopted on 13 June 2017. (See the English translation of the law and more information and analyses here and here.)
The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Transparency International Hungary prepared and has been regularly updating a timeline of the governmental attacks against Hungarian NGOs in English.
The original timeline and its updated versions may be downloaded here:
- Updated timeline -long, Updated timeline – short (17 November 2017)
- Updated timeline – long, Updated timeline – short (7 April 2017)
- Updated timeline – long, Updated timeline – short (22 February 2017)
- Updated timeline – long, Updated timeline – short (12 August 2015)
- Updated timeline – long, Updated timeline – short (28 February 2015),
- Updated timeline – long, Updated timeline – short (18 November 2014),
- Timeline – long, Timeline – short (20 October 2014).
A compilation of the respective provisions of international agreements which exclude the audit by the Hungarian Government Control Office into the implementation of the EEA/Norway Grants NGO Fund is available here in English.