UN experts decry Hungary’s tough new measures against migrants and civil society
GENEVA (11 September 2018) – UN human rights experts* have expressed serious concerns about tough new measures in
Hungary to stop migrants and refugees from entering the country, as well as the increased number of threats cast against
civil society actors.
On 1 July 2018, a new law – called “Stop Soros” by the Government and “starve and strangle” by civil society – was
adopted, imposing further restrictions on the right to seek asylum, rendering it practically impossible for asylum
seekers to submit asylum claims and regularise their migratory status in Hungary.
The law, inter alia, also criminalises “supporting and facilitating illegal immigration”, a new offence punishable with one year of
imprisonment for individuals or organisations.
Subsequently, additional laws have been adopted introducing a special 25 percent tax on NGOs who engage in “immigration
activities” and imposing restrictions on assembly.
“We are extremely worried by this excessively restrictive legislative framework, combined with a series of attacks
directed against civil society right after the elections,” the experts said. “This reveals the Government’s political
priorities, obstructs the work of civil society critical to the Government’s policies, and fuels hostility, xenophobia
and incites discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and all those trying to provide them support.”
The European Commission, the OSCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations
Human Rights Committee, among others, have strongly condemned the new package of laws.
The recently enacted laws follow other legislative changes imposing restrictions on the work of civil society, such as
amendments to the Higher Education Law and the NGO Transparency Law, both adopted in 2017.
“Since the last general election, the Government has engaged in smear campaigns against civil society, in particular in
connection to migration issues, discrediting and intimidating dissenting voices, notably through its own agencies and
through the public media,” said the experts.
Threats against human rights defenders in Hungary are now regular and widespread, evidently encouraged by the
Government, observed the experts. In August 2018, the Immigration Office stopped giving food to detained asylum-seekers
in transit zones. After the European Court of Human Rights’ issuance of five emergency orders to Hungary, meals were
again provided to asylum-seekers in detention.
“The current legislation and the various attacks against civil society, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers run
counter Hungary’s obligations under international human rights law and represent a serious breach by Hungary of the
obligations and values that found the European Union,” the UN experts said.
“We urge Hungary to refrain from engaging in practices that are threatening fundamental civic freedoms, in particular,
the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, as well as the principle of non-refoulement and the
ban on incitement to hatred and discrimination.
“We call on the European institutions to continue addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Hungary and
keep on taking decisions reflecting the core values of the European Union: democracy, the rule of law and the protection
of human rights.”
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures
of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system,
is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific
country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis;
they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or
organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page - Hungary