Hungarian Helsinki Committee takes legal action to challenge the anti-NGO laws

26.09.2018 - Pressenza Budapest

This post is also available in: German

Hungarian Helsinki Committee takes legal action to challenge the anti-NGO laws

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) filed a complaint with the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the new criminal provision threatening with imprisonment those assisting asylum seekers. As for the so-called ‘special tax on immigration’ this law can only be challenged in Strasbourg, as the ruling majority deprived the Constitutional Court of its right to review tax laws years ago. 

Ever since the Hungarian government introduced measures targeting civil society organizations the HHC has been stepping up on all possible fora against these. In our written submission we use constitutional and human rights arguments to prove that the new legal provisions only serve to intimidate civil society organizations, they are unconstitutional and violate fundamental human rights.

We continue to experience the government’s ongoing attacks against independent civil society organizations with the aim to impede their work and silence them. A further step in this process was when – this summer – the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law criminalizing those who assist asylum seekers and introduced the so-called ‘special tax on immigration’. To challenge these, the HHC turned to the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the ECtHR.

The Committee challenged the law criminalizing aides of asylum seekers both in Strasbourg and in Hungary. The law threatens with criminal sanctions not only HHC employees but all who help asylum seekers. Criminalization lacks any legitimate aim, is unnecessary and disproportionate. The new law’s wording is extremely vague allowing for arbitrary implementation by the authorities.

The HHC could not challenge the special tax on immigration at the Hungarian Constitutional Court because the ruling coalition passed constitutional legislation that deprives the citizens of their right to turn to the Constitutional Court in tax matters. Therefore in this matter, our only available remedy is the Strasbourg court.

The HHC’s application submits that the 25% special tax is unfair: instead of an open debate, the government holds to ransom those who oppose its views. The new tax law hinders the work of civil society organizations as the wording is deliberately ambiguous to discourage donors. The government’s communication following the adoption of the law was clear: one of the target organizations is the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. We are optimistic however that we can defend our truth before a truly independent judicial forum.

Please find the complaint filed with the European Court of Human Rights concerning criminalizing aides of asylum seekers here.

Please find the complaint filed with the European Court of Human Rights concerning the 25% special task here.

Link to the press release.

Categories: Europe, Human Rights, International, Press Releases
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