As the President of the Conference of INGOs, I am extremely concerned by the criminalization of essential human rights work by NGOs in the context of migration that this bill proposes. The modification of the Criminal Code by this Bill targets organizations and professionals who are merely providing legitimate and necessary assistance to asylum-seekers. In addition, this draft Bill would criminalise the ‘production or dissemination of informational materials’, and other ‘organizational activities’ such as advocacy. These two elements alone risk seriously undermining the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association which are guaranteed by the European Convention for Human Rights, itself the cornerstone of Hungary’s membership of the Council of Europe.

      I urge the Hungarian Parliament to refrain from any further action on Bill T/333 until the forthcoming Venice Commission Opinion is fully taken into account. I also call on the Hungarian authorities to cease and desist from their current practice of stigmatising and labelling Hungarian civil society organisations.