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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hungary Passes Tough Anti-Foreign NGO Law Tuesday June 13,2017

Hungary's parliament approved on Tuesday June 13,2017 a crackdown on foreign-backed civil society groups despite an international outcry, in a move seen as targeting US billionaire George Soros.

A new law, passed by 130 votes to 44, will force groups receiving more than 24,000 euros ($26,000) annually in overseas funding to register as a "foreign-supported organisation", or risk closure for non-compliance.

They will also have to use the label "foreign-supported organisation" on their websites, press releases and other publications.

The government of populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the measures are aimed at improving transparency as well as fighting money laundering and terrorism funding.

But the European Commission and the United Nations have condemned the law, with experts saying it could "discriminate against and delegitimise" non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Several prominent NGOs said they would boycott the law and take the matter to Hungary's constitutional court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"One of the fundamental pillars of a strong democracy is a strong independent civil society," said Marta Pardavi of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a local refugee rights group.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union also said it would "not comply with the requirements of an unlawful law".

Amnesty International meanwhile called the measures "a vicious and calculated assault" on civil groups critical of Orban's hardline policies.

The organisation said the move resembled legislation introduced in Russia in 2012 requiring foreign NGOs to register as "foreign agents".

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