Amnesty International Hungary joins boycott of NGO law

June 27, 2017

Amnesty International Hungary has joined the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and Hungarian Helsinki Committee in boycotting the new NGO law and will not register in court as “foreign-funded”, reports Hungarian news site index.hu. The decision was made by the NGO’s general assembly at an extraordinary meeting on Monday.

“Amnesty International operates worldwide according to the local laws,” the organisation said in a statement. “This is the first law in Hungary since 1990 that we will refuse to comply with consciously. In our opinion, the government has crossed a line and did not leave any choice for us but the instrument of civil disobedience.”

Amnesty announced in the same statement that it will leave the Human Rights Workgroup established by the government to monitor the enforcement of human rights in Hungary. Amnesty International Hungary has been a member of the workgroup since 2012, and despite many NGOs leaving the body around the time of the governmental harassment of NGOs that received funds from the Norway Grants, Amnesty opted to stay so as to seize every opportunity to negotiate with decision-makers.

“Since then it became totally clear that the Hungarian government has no intention to maintain a normal professional dialogue with the independent Hungarian NGOs,” Amnesty said. “Moreover, it is in its interest to dispense with such organizations, therefore from now on we will not participate in the Workgroup. It is incredibly sad that we had to make this decision.”

The  Government Information Center issued a short response: “In Hungary, even [George] Soros-organizations have to comply with the law.” Soros is the founder of the Open Society Foundation who the government has targetted for his financial support of Hungarian NGOs.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee have already stated that they will not register in court.