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Nils Muižnieks: Hungarian politicians must stop stigmatising human rights NGOs

Human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks has written to a top Hungarian government official to express his concerns about the “stigmatising rhetoric” used against human rights defenders.

“The stigmatizing rhetoric used in Hungary against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of promoting human rights and democratic values, with politicians questioning the legitimacy of their work, is of great concern to me” the commissioner said today, publishing a letter addressed to the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, János Lázár.

Muižnieks deplores in particular a series of allegations by government officials whereby the Norwegian Civil Fund (the so-called NGO Fund) was used to support political activities in Hungary. As a consequence, a number of audits concerning NGOs, all beneficiaries from the NGO Fund, have been recently carried out by the Hungarian Government Control Office.

“Imposing additional administrative requirements on a selected number of NGOs, solely based on their supposed or actual activity, is simply inadmissible,” the Commissioner for Human Rights declared.

“I call upon the Hungarian authorities to revise their position which is at the origin of the launching of these audits. As a first step, the suspension of all on-going audits until the legal basis for such audits has been clarified should be considered.”

The reply from the Hungarian government seeks to “dispel the concerns raised” by the commissioner.

The letter states: “With respect to the fact that the financial resources of the Norwegian NGO Fund constitute public money, it is the moral obligation of the Hungarian Government to order every measure in its discretion which are necessary for the thorough investigation of the questions raised, irrespective of the possible political affiliations of the organisations to be examined, or the contents of the supported activities.”

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