NGOs slam govt’s anti-Soros package

Two dozens of Hungarian NGOs have qualified the “Stop Soros” draft package published in full on Thursday as “deceptive, arbitrary and harmful”.

Veronika Mora, director of Okotars Foundation, told a press conference that the package, which she dubbed “Stop Civil”, should be withdrawn. It is particularly harmful, she said, because the law would severely restrict the possibility to obtain and keep the public benefit organisation status for all NGOs.

The initiative is part of a process, Mora insisted. The first stage was the attack against the Norway Grants in 2013-14, followed by the 2017 “anti-NGO law”, which requires the registration of NGOs above 7.2 million forints (EUR 23,000) foreign funding a year, she said. The NGOs in question will fight with all means at their disposal to stop the bill from being signed into law, she said.

Marta Pardavi, co-leader of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (MHB), said the package was aimed at discouraging people from active involvement in public affairs. No democratic leadership can accept such legislation, she said.

Spokesman Zsolt Zadori said MHB activists had never met any NGOs “organising illegal migration”. Although members of these organisations “know this to be untrue”, authorities will now have the means to brand them as such, he said.

Commenting on the presser, the Government Information Centre said in a statement that these organisations have attacked the government’s migration policy from the start. They “denounced Hungary in Brussels for the legal border seal, the transit zones, the fence, the quota referendum and the national consultation on the Soros plan”, it said.
Government office chief Janos Lazar said on Thursday that Parliament is expected to vote on the new package of law aimed at “fighting illegal migration and boosting Hungary’s security” in February.

The bills would oblige NGOs involved in “organising illegal migration” to register their activities and pay a 25 percent tax on donations received from abroad to be spent on border protection costs. Additionally, organisations could be subject to a restraining order with possible identical consequences to a ban, he said.

Source: MTI

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