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New Hungary legislation ‘shameful and blatantly xenophobic’ - Zeid

GENEVA (21 June 2018) –UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has condemned the decision by the Hungarian Parliament to pass legislation that criminalizes individuals and groups deemed to be supporting asylum-seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants. 

“Parliament’s decision is an attack on fundamental human rights and freedoms in Hungary. The constant stoking of hatred by the current Government for political gain has led to this latest shameful development, which is blatantly xenophobic and runs counter to European and international human rights standards and values,” said Zeid. 

“As I have stressed repeatedly, we recognize the responsibility of the Hungarian State to govern its borders, but this legislation threatens the safety and human rights of migrants and refugees, as well as the vital work of NGOs and human rights defenders providing protection and assistance to them. It makes illegal the act of helping those who may be in dire need,” he said. “To target those dealing with the most vulnerable, simply because they are foreigners, is truly disgraceful.”

The new legislation, which may come into force as early as 1 July, criminalizes a range of activities, including distributing information on migration-related matters, providing advice to migrants and refugees, and conducting human rights monitoring at borders. The authorities will be able to arrest, charge and immediately remove from Hungary’s border area with non-Schengen countries any lawyer, adviser, volunteer or legally resident family member suspected of helping a person to make an asylum claim or obtain a residence permit, or of providing other legal or humanitarian assistance.

Under the legislation, individuals could face up to one year in prison and organisations could be banned. In addition, foundations that provide funding for NGOs that work on migrant issues could face charges. Hungarian authorities also announced this week that they would introduce a 25 per cent tax on funding for NGOs which “support immigration”. 

For more information and media requests, please contact in Geneva: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org or Liz Throssell - + 41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org. 

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