Hungarian Helsinki Committee sues propaganda ministry over National Consultation

October 16, 2017

Hungarian Helsinki Committee sues propaganda ministry over National Consultation
Photo: The Budapest Beacon

Human rights NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee is suing the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister (also known as the propaganda ministry) over what it claims are misleading and untrue allegations contained in the government’s latest National Consultation questionnaire, index.hu reports.

According to a press release issued by the NGO, one question in the National Consultation which mentions the Helsinki Committee by name is defamatory and violates its rights to a good public reputation.

“The Hungarian Helsinki Committee turned to a court because of the misleading accusations found in the ‘National Consultation’ which show true facts in a false light,” the press release reads. “We ask the court to determine that the accusations contained in the ‘national consultation questionnaire’, which the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister intends to send to every household, violated the organization’s rights to a good public reputation. The civil attorneys also ask that the government organ apologize in a statement and pay two million forints in damages.”

The statement in question comes from the 5th question in the National Consultation, and reads:

“George Soros wants to achieve lighter sentences for migrants for the crimes they commit. George Soros, with significant sums, supports organizations that assist immigration and protect immigrants that commit unlawful acts. One of these is the Helsinki Committee which, in connection with illegal crossing of the border fence, argued that the application of serious legal consequences for the unlawful entry could be considered worrisome.” 

Helsinki argued that it has never pushed for lighter punishment for “migrants” or “immigrants” for crimes they commit, and emphasized that the case referenced in the National Consultation concerned only what it argues was the unlawful detention of migrants crossing the border in 2015 which violated terms of the Geneva Convention.

Helsinki argued that “the fifth point of the questionnaire falsely defines the Helsinki Committee’s professional position concerning a special situation as a general position. This false appearance violates the rights to a good public reputation of the organization which has been working for 28 years.”

Responding to the Helsinki Committee’s legal action, propaganda ministry parliamentary undersecretary Csaba Dömötör told state news agency MTI that “it appears that the organizations supported by George Soros are doing everything they can so that Hungarian citizens cannot express their opinions concerning the plans of the billionaire.” According to Dömötör, the committee’s legal action is “yet another reason why as many people as possible should participate in the consultation.”