Krisztina Than, Reuters, February 14, 2018
Hungary’s nationalist government introduced legislation that would empower the interior minister to ban non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support migration and pose a “national security risk”.
The bill, submitted to parliament late on Tuesday, is a key part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration campaign targeting U.S. financier George Soros whose philanthropy aims to bolster liberal and open-border values in eastern Europe.
The government says the bill, which would also impose a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that back migration in Hungary, is meant to deter illegal immigration Orban says is eroding European stability and has been stoked in part by Soros.
But Orban’s message, championing conservative Christian beliefs and rejecting multiculturalism, has gone down well with Hungarian voters and his Fidesz party is expected to secure a third straight term in a general election due on April 8.
The bill says that NGOs that “sponsor, organize or support the entry or stay of third-country citizens on Hungarian territory via a safe third country to extend international protection … qualify as organizations supporting migration”.
Such activity — including campaigning, advocacy, recruiting volunteers, producing information booklets — would have to be approved by the interior minister, who could deny permission if he saw a “national security risk”.
If an NGO continued with such activity, Hungarian prosecutors could act to withdraw the NGO’s tax number, essentially paralyzing them, slap them with heavy fines and ultimately dissolve them.
Organizations that support migration will have to pay tax on the foreign funding or assets they receive, the bill says, with a possible exemption on funding that serves humanitarian goals.
Activists who organize or support migration could also face restraining orders preventing them from approaching the EU’s external borders in Hungary.
Pro-government media reported earlier that the new legislation could lead to a ban on Soros, who has U.S. and Hungarian citizenship, entering the country.
Last year, the Orban government introduced a measure requiring NGOs that get money from abroad to register with the state, raising alarm in the EU and United States.