Hungary: George Soros Open Society Foundation to sue Hungary over legislation that criminalises support for refugees
29 Sep 2018 Hungary: Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Open Society Foundation file complaint against Hungary over legislation that criminalises support for refugees Reportfrom European Council on Refugees and Exiles Published on 28 Sep 2018 â" View Original
In response to measures imposed by the Hungarian government that attempt to crack down on civil society individuals or organisations that purportedly âpromote illegal migrationâ, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) and the Open Society Foundation (OSF) have both announced that they are filing cases against the Hungarian government at the European Court of Human Rights.
The organisations are taking the Hungarian Government to court concerning the legislation, which they argue breaches the guarantees of freedom of expression and association enshrined in the European Conv ention of Human Rights. The OSF has said that it will file the case simultaneously before the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) because of the âcurrent and ongoing damage being done by the legislation and because Hungaryâs courts have become increasingly reluctant to challenge the governmentâ. HHC have stated that they are also challenging Hungary at both Courts, and explain that the so- called âspecial tax on immigrationâ included in the measures can only be fought at the ECHR due to constitutional legislation passed by the ruling coalition, that deprives citizens of their right to turn to the Constitutional Court in matters of taxation.
The Hungarian governments have remained defiant in their response to challenges, claiming that âthe legislation serves the will of the Hungarian people, and the security of Hungary and Europeâ, while the âaim of George Soros and organisations supported by him is to flood Europe with migrantsâ.
The OSFâs President Patrick Gaspard describes the âStop Sorosâ legislation as having an effect so âfar-reaching and chillingâ that it will impact âcivil society far beyond the field of migrationâ. He argues that âThe Hungarian government has fabricated a narrative of lies to blind people to the truth: that these laws were designed to intimidate independent civil society groups, in another step towards silencing all dissentâ.
In June this year, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban introduced a raft of legislative measures and constitutional amendments- under the title of the âStop Soros Lawâ to provide a means to make it a criminal offense for civil society organisations to assist refugees and migrants defined as activities that âpromote illegal migrationâ. In late July, a special immigration tax with a 25% levy was also imposed on the revenues of all NGOs whose work supported migrants.
In response, US- Hungarian billio naire George Soros was obliged to move his international organisation the âOpen Society Foundationâ from Hungary to its new headquarters in Berlin, while the Central European University funded by Soros was forced to suspend the programmes it was running for registered refugees and asylum seekers, despite that its students were legally admitted to Hungary before enrollment. Currently, the tax liability does not apply to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee because their activities related to asylum seekers are supported by the European Union and the United Nations, and these organisations are exempt from paying tax in Hungary. However, they remain a target, and argue that their work will be impacted; âthe new tax regulation does make our work more difficult as its vague wording could result in arbitrary application of the law. It may also discourage some of our donors not exempt from the law, from financially supporting our work concerning refugeesâ.
For further informati on:
- Hungarian Helsinki Committee, European Court of Human Rights â" Application, concerning criminalizing aides of asylum seekers, September 2018
- Hungarian Helsinki Committee, European Court of Human Rights â" Application, concerning the 25% special tax, September 2018
- Joint statement, 87 European organisations call on Hungary to withdraw proposed laws targeting groups working with migrants and refugees, May 2018
- ECRE, Editorial: Hungary: Focus on the demagogue not the scapegoats, April 2018
- ECRE, Global outcry against attack on civil society in Hungary, February 2018
- News and Press Release
- Protection and Human Rights