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Civil Society Intimidation In Hungary


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. (File)

The United States is concerned about an apparent campaign of intimidation directed toward civil society and independent media in Hungary.

The United States is concerned about an apparent campaign of intimidation directed toward civil society and independent media in Hungary.

The harassment began in April 2014 when the Hungarian government accused organizations that conduct legitimate work in human rights, transparency and gender equality of serving so-called foreign interests. The Hungarian Prime Minister's Office alleged that non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that monitor and evaluate grant proposals for the European Economic Area, or EEA, -Norway NGO fund were tied to an opposition party.

Members of the media in Hungary report that they practice self-censorship because they fear retaliation for articles critical of the government.

Treatment of the media overall shows a disturbing willingness to use pressure to undermine media pluralism, from an independent radio station’s long legal battle to finally win a broadcasting license, to a new advertising tax that apparently targets the largest independently owned television station.

Most recently, on September 8th, Hungary's National Bureau of Investigation initiated a series of police raids on two NGOs responsible for the EEA-Norway NGO grant program in Hungary. With no prior warning, and in a show of intimidation, over 30 officers entered the NGO facilities and seized the organizations' documents and computers.

These police raids, said U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Kaye Byrnes, "Appear to be aimed at suppressing critical voices and restricting the space for civil society to operate freely. The United States again reminds Hungary of its OSCE commitments to human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law."

The United States continues to encourage the government of Hungary to observe its human rights commitments and to allow NGOs and the independent media to operate without further harassment, interference, or intimidation. Upholding these values will help Hungary become a more prosperous, robust, and inclusive democracy.

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