Responding to a bill submission of the so-called ‘Sovereignty Protection Bill’ by governing Fidesz party, Dávid Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary said:
“This legislation is the latest attempt by the Hungarian government to silence critical voices and deter people and organisations from standing up for human rights. The overly broad and vague wording of the bill will make it possible for it be used against anyone the government wants to – while providing no remedy for organizations and individuals targeted under its terms.
“Like other recently adopted laws aimed at independent NGOs and media outlets, this proposed legislation breaches Hungary’s domestic and international obligations. In the face of this latest attempt at intimidation everyone must come together to call for this bill to be dropped.”
Among other things the bill aims to create a new authority, dubbed as the Sovereignty Protection Office tasked with investigating organizations and individuals who are considered as a “threat to national sovereignty” or engaging in activities “influencing public decision making” or the “influencing the will of the voters”.
The vaguely worded bill lacks any guarantees ensuring that these investigations would not be used to stigmatize and intimidate critical voices.
The Office would have an overarching power to examine and copy NGOs documents, question staff and oblige head of organisations to appear before the National Security Committe of Parliament. The Office will receive directly information from the secret services as well.
The proposed bill also amends the Criminal Code by establishing a prison sentence of up to 3 years for those organisations and individuals who are using foreign funding in their political campaigns.