Stop Targeting Hungarian NGOs!
Since its re-election, the Hungarian government launched a campaign attacking the credibility of Hungarian NGOs and are striving to gain controlling power over their funding distributed independently from the government. We believe that a dynamic and independent civil society plays a fundamental role in a democratic society, as it is one of the key checks and balances to governing power. As demonstrated by Putin’s Russia, the harassment of the civil sector could easily lead to the criminalization of NGOs and could effectively hinder their work. We stand in solidarity with the Hungarian NGOs and call on the Hungarian and all other governments to refrain from harassing civil society! Continue reading
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (Tasz) is representing a former staff member of the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration, András Horváth, who went public with information about companies committing VAT fraud with the assistance of the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) only after trying unsuccessfully on several occasions to raise his concerns within the Administration itself and to the Government.
This is exactly the type of case that all member states of the Council of Europe, the European Union (Hungary is a member of both) and signatories of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (Hungary ratified UNCAC in 2005) should want to get right. Hungary’s new Whistleblower Protection law came into force on the 1st January 2014 so Horváth, unwittingly perhaps, is the first to test the strength of the new law which Tasz already considers weak in many regards. An earlier whistleblower law called the Protection of Fair Procedures Law failed to make much of an impact not least because the Hungarian government never set up the agency the law envisioned to receive whistleblower reports and enforce the law.
But the description of what has happened to András Horváth so far – the police raid on his home and the court’s order upholding this action which Tasz argues was unlawful – does not bode well, at least in the short term, for those who hope the Hungarian Government will put its energies and resources into fighting corruption rather than attacking those who are trying to help it do the right thing.
For details of this case and the work of Tasz please see Why was the search of the whistleblower’s home unlawful? published today (7 April 2014) on its website.
Please note that Tasz and other important Hungarian civil society organisations K-Monitor and Atlatszo.hu are participating organisations in the WIN network.