Complaint to the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the stigmatizing „foreign funded” law

Budapest, 30 August 2017 - 23 Hungarian civil society organizations working together in the Civilization campaign submitted a joint motion (complaint) to the Constitutional Court on Monday, challenging the constitutionality of the stigmatizing „foreign funded” law.

According to the law on „organizations supported from abroad” passed by the Hungarian Parliament in June, all civil society organizations that receive at least 7.2 million HUF (app. 24,000 €) support in a year from abroad must register at the court as „foreign funded” organization and use this label on their website and all publications. Besides, these organizations must disclose the personal data of donors that give more than 500 000 HUF (app. 1650 €).

Many civil society organizations – working together in the Civilization campaign – have protested against this stigmatization, as in the present political atmosphere the notion of foreign support clearly aims at discrediting the organizations and undermining public trust towards them. This breaches the affected organizations’ right to fair name and to privacy, as well as the freedom of speech and association guaranteed in the Fundamental Law of Hungary.

The motion submitted to the Constitutional Court was joined by 23 civil society organizations, demonstrating that not only those directly targeted and vilified by the government  believe that the law „on organizations supported from abroad” is problematic and will have detrimental effect on the whole of society, but also those who had no prior conflicts with the state. These organizations all work together against this discriminating law which only serves to obstruct their work. The complaint was developed by lawyers of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

The petitioners: Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International – Hungary, Artemission Foundation, Association of Conscientious Consumers, Autonomia Foundation, BAGázs Public Benefit Association, Civil College Foundation, Clean Air Action Group, Cordelia Foundation for the Victims of Organized Violence, CUM VIRTUTE HUMANITATIS Foundation, Energiaklub Climate Policy Institute, Háttér Society, K-Monitor Public Benefit Association, Hungarian Europe Society, Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants, Ökotárs – Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Partners for Democratic Change Hungary Foundation, PILnet Foundation Real Pearl Foundation, Rights Reporter Foundation, School of Public Life and Terre des Hommes Foundation "Lausanne” - Hungary.

The joint petition also serves as a template, for other affected civil society organizations which decide to challenge the law. The petitioners also publish a guidance, which organizations can adapt and tailor to their own cause.