UN experts decry Hungary’s tough new measures against migrants and civil society
Hungary: Experts decry migration clampdown
11 September 2018
GENEVA (11 September 2018) –
GENEVA (11 September 2018) – UN human rights experts* have expressed serious concerns about tough new measures in Hungary to stop migrants and refugees from entering the country, as well as the increased number of threats cast against civil society actors.
On 1 July 2018, a new law – called “Stop Soros” by the Government and “starve and strangle” by civil society – was adopted, imposing further restrictions on the right to seek asylum, rendering it practically impossible for asylum seekers to submit asylum claims and regularise their migratory status in Hungary.
The law, inter alia, also criminalises “supporting and facilitating illegal immigration”, a new offence punishable with one year of imprisonment for individuals or organisations.
Subsequently, additional laws have been adopted introducing a special 25 percent tax on financing “immigration activities” and imposing restrictions on assembly.
“We are extremely worried by this excessively restrictive legislative framework, combined with a series of attacks directed against civil society right after the elections,” the experts said. “This reveals the Government’s political priorities, obstructs the work of civil society critical to the Government’s policies, and fuels hostility, xenophobia and incites discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and all those trying to provide them support.”
The European Commission, the OSCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, among others, have strongly condemned the new package of laws.
The recently enacted laws follow other legislative changes imposing restrictions on the work of civil society, such as amendments to the Higher Education Law and the NGO Transparency Law, both adopted in 2017.
“Since the last general election, the Government has engaged in smear campaigns against civil society, in particular in connection to migration issues, discrediting and intimidating dissenting voices, notably through its own agencies and through the public media,” said the experts.
Threats against human rights defenders in Hungary are now regular and widespread, evidently encouraged by the Government, observed the experts. In August 2018, the Immigration Office stopped giving food to detained asylum-seekers in transit zones. After the European Court of Human Rights’ issuance of five emergency orders to Hungary, meals were again provided to asylum-seekers in detention.
“The current legislation and the various attacks against civil society, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers run counter Hungary’s obligations under international human rights law and represent a serious breach by Hungary of the obligations and values that found the European Union,” the UN experts said.
“We urge Hungary to refrain from engaging in practices that are threatening fundamental civic freedoms, in particular, the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, as well as the principle of non-refoulement and the ban on incitement to hatred and discrimination.
“We call on the European institutions to continue addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Hungary and keep on taking decisions reflecting the core values of the European Union: democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.”
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the
Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For more information and media requests please contact Ms. Marion Mondain (+41 (0) 22 91 79 540 /
media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 /
This year is the 70th anniversaryof 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 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to
Stand Upfor Human Rights: