Friday

21st Jan 2022

Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs

  • Hungary's proposed bill would make it impossible for human rights groups to monitor the border (Photo: PES)

Hungary will proceed with a parliamentary vote on Wednesday (20 June) on the government's so-called 'Stop Soros' bill - without waiting for the opinion of a European body of legal experts.

The Council of Europe's 'Venice Commission', a panel of constitutional law experts from the human rights' body, is due to issue its opinion on the bill, but only on Friday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Its president, Gianni Buquicchio, asked the Hungarian authorities to halt the adoption of the law until Friday or "at least to take into account the commission's recommendations" in its draft opinion.

However, Gergely Gulyas, Hungary's minister of the prime minister's office, told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday (19 June) that Hungary took note of the commission's opinions, but said that the bill is an adequate response to the migration challenges.

Under the package, people who help migrants not entitled to protection to submit requests for asylum, or who help illegal migrants stay legally in Hungary, will be liable for jail.

NGOs dealing with migration describe the move as an attempt to silence the government's critics and to crack down on civil society.

The bill is seen as part of Hungary premier Viktor Orban's efforts to tighten his grip on power by continuing a campaign against the EU's migration policies, and against Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros.

The bill, submitted only a few weeks after Orban's ruling Fidesz party won elections by a landslide, also rules out asylum for those migrants who arrived in Hungary via a safe third country, in which they were not directly exposed to persecution.

Gulyas said the Venice Commission's draft opinion did not question the right for Hungary to apply the criminal code in migration issues, but only disagreed with the proportionality of the government's measures.

"We do not agree with this, but we thank them for the advice," Gulyas said, adding that the publication of the opinion on Friday was merely a formality.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a reporter in Budapest on Tuesday that the vote will go ahead.

"We have the majority, so we will adopt it [the bill]," he said. Orban's Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in parliament.

The UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, urged Hungary previously to scrap the draft law, saying it would deprive refugees and asylum-seekers of vital services and critical aid, and encourage "rising xenophobic attitudes".

Soros, who is Jewish, was vilified in the election campaign by Fidesz, and some of the targeted NGOs are financed by the billionaire's Open Society Foundationpromoting human rights and liberal values.

In a separate tax bill, Hungary's government is also proposing a 25 percent special migration tax on organisations dealing with migration.

Feature

Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Immediately after Orban's landslide victory in April, a list of so-called 'Soros mercenaries' was published by pro-government media. Those on it - mostly human rights defenders, activists and Orban critics - are now anxious but vow to continue.

EU targets Hungary for denying food to migrants

At least 25 people stuck in Hungary's transit zones along the Serb border have been denied food, with one case lasting eight days. On Thursday, the European Commission threatened the risks of sanctions against Hungary over the issue.

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  2. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  3. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  4. Macron promises strong EU borders
  5. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  6. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  7. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers
  8. Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us