Hungary repeals NGO law however civil rights group deem substitute is unconstitutional –

The ruling majority in the Hungarian parliament has passed a new NGO law repealing the law previously declared incompatible with EU law by the bloc’s highest court. Rights groups warn that the legal basis of the substitute law is also in doubt.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) passed a Hungarian law from 2017 in June of last year, forcing civil society actors to register as “organizations receiving support from abroad” when the amount of donations from outside the country exceeds the threshold of around 22,000 EUR.

The EU Supreme Court said the restrictions imposed were “discriminatory and unjustified” and contrary to EU law.

The Hungarian government believes that its main objective is the transparency and traceability of capital movements intended for organizations that participate in public life.

However, civil society organizations have already raised concerns about the new law, which will, among other things, allow the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) to conduct and publish annual audits of NGOs with a budget of over EUR 55,000, even if the organizations do not receive public funding .

“Repealing the legislation is an important step for NGOs as nearly four years of unnecessary and harmful stigmas will end […] But the new bill it replaces is cause for concern, ”19 organizations of the Civilization Coalition, an umbrella organization of Hungarian NGOs, said in a statement last month.

Those who raise concerns find that religious and athletic organizations – some of which receive large amounts of public money – are exempt from such audits.

After the law was passed on Tuesday, the Hungarian Union for Civil Liberties (HCLU) went further, saying that those in power put the organizations that citizens set up to control the exercise of power under close scrutiny Bringing state control and one of the most suspiciously important civic virtues, participation in shaping public affairs. “

“We are convinced that the new law will not only be unconstitutional, but that this unconstitutionality will also lead to a tangible violation of fundamental rights when the law comes into force,” the watchdog said in a statement.

“With the law, the state encroaches on the autonomy of the association of organizations established on the basis of the right to organize, the privacy of citizens who advocate public affairs, and it is detrimental to the exercise of freedom of expression and thus to the people democratic public as a whole ”.

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