Protect Freedom in Hungary!

by Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!
Protect Freedom in Hungary!

Success at the courts

We have won three freedom of information cases recently at the courts.

  • The Centre for Budapest Transport was ordered to release data about passenger traffic of several bus services.
  • The Hungarian Medical Chamber (HMC) was ordered to release the requested information about the financial management of the organization, such as details about a purchase of property by one of HMC’s companies worth almost 150 million HUF.
  • Data of public interest is often withheld from the requesting party by charging an unreasonably high price for its disclosure. The amounts in question can be shocking: the requesting party may receive an invoice of millions of forints, which is hardly legitimate. In both cases we successfully argued for the data to be released free of charge.
  • MoD ARZENÁL Co. (related to the Hungarian Ministry of Defense), involved in the sales of military devices, has been ordered to reveal the conditions under which they had sold disarmed combat helicopters withdrawn from operation.

Advocacy and analysis on newly introduced laws

The Hungarian Parliament introduced recently a new bill on right to assembly. We have analysed the bill and advocated for a less restrictive regulation while welcoming the progressive amendments. The HCLU will prepare toolkits for citizens about the new regulation in order to ensure that they can exercise their right to assembly.

Along with the Seventh Amendment of the Hungarian Fundamental Law, other laws were adopted restricting the space for NGOs while claiming to combat illegal migration. These laws are unconstitutional as well as violate both European Union legislations and the European Convention of Human Rights. You can find our analysis in English on the links above

Events for an open society

Beside all the legal work, this summer we were present with our volunteers on music festivals and the Budapest Pride. We organized an international conference - Hope in the midst of Populism: A Moment of Transformation for the Human Rights Movement, because we believe that transforming communications is essential to tackle the backlash against human rights. Check out the broadcast on our Facebook Page!

Thank you for supporting us and for your help to protect freedom in Hungary!

 

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
HCLU team
HCLU team

Despite the hostile environment for human rights defenders, we continue to successfully protect  freedom in Hungary at the courts. Check out the wins by our legal team during the previous months:

  • Data about hospital infections should be made public. We won a freedom of information request case against the Ministry of Human Resources. The Ministry shall make public the official statistics of hospital infections broken down by institutions. As soon as we receive the data we will complete the work should have been done by the Ministry: the analysis and visualization of the results.
  • Electoral fraud proven in Pécs. Our client served as a vote counting delegate during the parliamentary elections, she has successfully proven an electoral fraud at Pécs with the help of HCLU attorneys. Julia gathered evidence that prove, voters have been influenced by promises of financial return, voters have been  transported in an organized ways to the electoral ballots, and the transporters has registered who voted already and who should still cast a ballot. As neither the local election committee nor the National Election Office did not considered the practice a problematic issue we went to the Supreme Court. Finally we could prove that these actions violate the principle of free elections and the principle of voluntary participation.
  • Protesting against the new government: legal.  Our lawyers have argued successfully that creation of a human chain around the Parliament during the parliamentary inauguration can not be forbidden.We will be on the streets to monitor if the police performs its duty to protect those expressing their opinion peacefully.

Thank you for supporting us and for your help to protect freedom in Hungary!

HCLU clients
HCLU clients
HCLU legal successes
HCLU legal successes
HCLU awards
HCLU awards
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
25 regulations have been modified
25 regulations have been modified

New year has come with new challenges for HCLU. In the past three months we have worked on many cases to protect civil liberties in Hungary. New impetus was given to the crackdown on independent civil society with the foreign funded organizations law. Let us provide just a short resume of our current activities:

  • We started a voting rights program, which aims to monitor the parlamental elections and provide legal aid to active citizens. We have developed a toolkit which helps activists to take action, providing them with know-your-rights leaflets, (participatory rights in the elections campaign, voting as well as how to avoid the unwanted access of personal data for campaign purposes). Furthermore, we provide legal aid for people whose political freedoms are violated connected to the elections.
  • Our colleagues examined hundreds of local regulations last year in order to stop local governments to take unlawful and discriminatory actions against people in poverty. We have filed petitions arguing the unlawfulness of  76 regulations passed by 55 settlements, which were excluding families most in need from social benefits. Such exclusion can be based on arbitrary requirements such as the average height of herbaceous species in their yard or orderly stored firewood. Until this day, 25 regulations have been modified based on our complaint.
  • We represent the case of Zsigmond Rékasi (16) the student protester whose flat has been searched and computers seized by the police after talking at a public demonstration. The procedure is disproportionate with the accusations of graffiting 5 months earlier and could result in frighten citizens who intend to express their political opinion during demonstrations.

Even before the European Commission could conclude its infringement procedure against the Hungarian government for a previous anti-NGO law, Budapest took up discussion of a new package of laws called 'Stop Soros' to shackle civil society.

This bill is arbitrary and harmful. It is arbitrary because the government seeks to determine what would constitute a problem for the people and who is entitled to solve it. In a democracy, this kind of restriction is unacceptable. Finally, the new act is harmful because removing public-interest status from organisations that receive a majority of foreign support could result in all Hungarian citizens being deprived of free civil assistance.

One year after the vice president of the ruling party declared war against the Hungarian civil society we submitted a joint appeal with thirteen organizations to the European Court of Human Rights, asking the court to declare that the anti-NGO act on "foreign funding" violates fundamental rights.

Similarly to the previous law, we will do everything to stop the new package as well. We are here to stay and protect freedom in Hungary!

Thank you for your support!

Zsigmond Rekasi, student protester
Zsigmond Rekasi, student protester
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
HCLU at the March for the Right to Housing
HCLU at the March for the Right to Housing

Since our last newsletter the case of the unlawful NGO Act has gone further: on July 13th, one month after the Hungarian Parliament had adopted the Act on the Transparency of NGOs funded from abroad, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary.

According to the EU, the Act that obliges the NGOs to list on all the platforms their donations received from abroad as a stigma violates the provisions on free movement of capital governed by the Treaty on European Union.The Act also violates fundamental rights included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union such as the freedom of assembly and the right to the protection of personal data.

On August 30th, 23 NGOs including HCLU submitted a joint complaint to the Constitutional Court to challenge the Act stigmazing the civil society. These NGOs cooperate also in the framework of the “Civilizáció” (Civilization) campaign.

The European Commission informed Hungary in a reasoned opinion that the infringement procedure moved on to the next stage on October 3rd. The Hungarian Government shall react within a month, i.e. measures need to be taken to comply with the reasoned opinion the Commission has issued. If Hungary is not able to provide a satisfactory explanation, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Beside that:

We launched our awareness-raising card game on rights for children with and without disabilites. “’MONDO’ has been created because in our experience people living with disabilites are often not aware of their rights and this prevents them from defending themselves.  If children do not learn that they should not be hurt, locked up or they are not sure whether they can ask for help, they will not be able to stand up for themselves as grown-ups either. Humiliation is a violation of rights in itself, and the card game ‘MONDO’ helps to express this feeling and to defend ourselves.” - as Stefania Karponczay, our executive director said.

There are more and more demonstrations about cases that HCLU also supports. Our colleagues and volunteers regularly participate in these events, thus supporting all initiatives that promote freedom. HCLU was represented at three important demonstrations in Budapest during the past month: we participated in the “Rehab Critical Mass”, in the “Roma Pride Day” and in the “Lakásmenet” (March for the Right to Housing).

During the past three months, our free of charge legal assistance service has replied to more than 350 requests via e-mail or phone call and we have taken on fifteen new cases to provide assistance with.

Thank you for supporting us and for protecting freedom in Hungary!

MONDO - awareness-raising card game
MONDO - awareness-raising card game
Demonstration for the NGOs - '17 April
Demonstration for the NGOs - '17 April
HCLU at the Roma Pride Day - '17 October
HCLU at the Roma Pride Day - '17 October
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Protesting against the NGO Act
Protesting against the NGO Act

The Unlawful NGO Act is bound to fail.

In the last couple of months the government and the ruling party increased the intensity of their anti-NGO communication and on June 13the Hungarian Parliament adopted the Law on the Transparency of Foreign Funded Organisations.

Similar laws were adopted in Russia and Israel in the disguise of transparency, which aim at silencing NGOs providing critical services and monitoring government’s human rights track record. The now adopted Hungarian NGO Act is a carbon-copy of Russia’s foreign agent law. In Russia, that law was followed by multiple amendments restricting the activities of NGOs and resulting in 27 organizations closing down since the law was adopted.

HCLU decided to denounce the unlawful NGO Act, even in its final version. The bill should not have been adopted, as it violates fundamental rights. We believe that the most effective way of acting against the unlawful provisions is not to abide the law. Multiple legal remedies opens up for us only if we do not comply with the requirements of the unlawful act. Unwilling to give up on any means of redress, we have decided not to fulfil the requirements of the unlawful act.

We’re here to stay and to continue our work.

Beside the hostile environment and the continuous negative campaign against our work, we continue working for our mission: we strive to educate citizens about their basic human rights and freedoms, and take stand against undue interference and misuse of power by those in positions of authority. Check out the projects and successes we had in the previous months:

  • Our campaign called Missing Memories won the Hungarian Civil Award ‘17. The campaign aimed at preventing and raising awareness of the discriminatory practice of the child protection authorities against families most in need. During the campaign HCLU helped families that have been torn apart unlawfully to get their children back from foster parents or foster homes.
  • The prosecution discontinued its investigation against our client, whistle-blower and former officer of the National Tax and Customs Administration. He gave a whistleblowing notification based on documents that can prove massive and organized VAT evasion and corruption among multinational enterprises with the assistance of the tax authority. He was charged alleging abuse of private data, the charges were dropped due to the legal assistance HCLU provided.  
  • Our "I have a child with me" campaign, launched in April 2015, will continue with the now-received support from a private donor, MagNet Bank. The campaign aims to ensure that every hospital in Hungary enables parents of ill children to stay with them during their recovery, even for several nights in a row. We research the hospitals’ practices, we organize trainings for parents on their rights and introduce best practices to show that respecting their rights is just a matter of will.

Thank you for supporting us and for your help to protect freedom in Hungary!

"Missing Memories" campaign - NGO Award '17
"Missing Memories" campaign - NGO Award '17
I have a child with me!
I have a child with me!
NGO Act is bound to fail
NGO Act is bound to fail
HCLU success - whistleblower's freedom
HCLU success - whistleblower's freedom

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Location: Budapest - Hungary
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @tasz_hu
Project Leader:
Stefania Kapronczay
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Budapest, Budapest Hungary
$22,147 raised of $50,000 goal
 
153 donations
$27,853 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.