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Hungary: Orbán set to repeal anti-NGO law but introduce repressive replacement

Dangerous LexNGO law to be repealed, but government brings forward successor bill with no prior consultation

‘We welcome the repeal, but we cannot drop our guard yet’ - Dávid Vig

The Hungarian government has announced it will repeal ‘LexNGO’ - a dangerous law stigmatising and placing restrictions on the work of non-governmental organisations - but has already announced a successor bill which would have a similarly repressive effect.

In February the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary after finding that the anti-NGO legislation breached EU law.

Responding to the announcement, Dávid Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary, said: 

“The LexNGO law was a dangerous tool of Orbán’s government - it was a politically-motivated move to silence and restrict NGOs that do vital work to hold the authorities to account and support vulnerable groups.

“We welcome the repeal, but we cannot 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 that ’influence the public’, and it will potentially empower the government 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 but it shows that religious, sport and national minority organisations would be exempt. NGOs in Hungary are already required to operate transparently - this bill is a new repressive tool for the government to further stigmatise and crush critical organisations.

“The authorities must end their crackdown on civil society. We are calling on the government to refrain from restricting and stigmatising NGOs, and to guarantee an environment where they can freely and independently carry out their essential work without any fear of reprisals.”

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