News outlets and NGOs condemn Hungary’s new ‘sovereignty protection’ law as a way to silence critics
December 15, 2023 | by b1og.net
In a new law that has drawn criticism from news outlets and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Hungary’s right-wing populist government has granted authorities the power to investigate and prosecute individuals accused of undermining the country’s sovereignty. The law, called the “sovereignty protection act,” has been compared to Russia’s “foreign agent” law and is seen by opponents as a way to silence government critics. Independent media outlets in Hungary have signed an open letter denouncing the law, stating that they have been unjustly accused of serving foreign interests. The government argues that the law aims to prevent political parties from receiving foreign funding for election campaigns. However, human rights groups argue that the law is a threat to human rights and violates Hungary’s constitutional and international obligations. The passage of this law adds to Hungary’s ongoing struggles with the European Union over democratic backsliding and the rights of marginalized communities.
Opposition to Hungary’s Sovereignty Protection Law
Independent media outlets and rights groups condemn the law
Independent media outlets and rights groups in Hungary have expressed strong opposition to the country’s new “sovereignty protection” law. This legislation, passed by Hungary’s right-wing populist government, grants authorities the power to investigate and prosecute individuals or groups accused of undermining Hungary’s sovereignty. Critics argue that this law is a way to silence dissent and curtail press freedom in the country.
Comparison to Russia’s ‘foreign agent’ law
Opponents of the sovereignty protection law have drawn comparisons to Russia’s “foreign agent” law. Both laws are criticized for their broad language and potential for arbitrary targeting of government critics. The Russian law has been used to crack down on independent media and civil society organizations, leading to concerns that the Hungarian law could have similar effects.
Accusations against Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Much of the opposition to the sovereignty protection law is directed towards Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Orbán has long been accused of consolidating power and undermining democratic norms in Hungary. Critics argue that this law is another tool in Orbán’s arsenal to suppress dissent and maintain his grip on power.
Open letter from independent news outlets
Ten independent news outlets in Hungary have signed an open letter denouncing the sovereignty protection law. In the letter, the news outlets refute the Hungarian government’s claims that they are serving foreign interests and emphasize their commitment to transparency. They argue that the accusations against them are baseless and harm both the newsrooms and the Hungarian people who rely on their work.
Claims of transparency and lack of hidden funds or subsidies
The independent news outlets vehemently deny benefiting from hidden funds or subsidies. They assert that they operate transparently and serve the interests of democracy in Hungary. By refuting the government’s accusations, the news outlets aim to protect their reputation and demonstrate their commitment to journalistic integrity.
Government’s justification for the law
The Hungarian government defends the sovereignty protection law as a means to prevent political parties from receiving foreign funding for election campaigns. They argue that such foreign funding was used by a coalition of opposition parties in the 2022 parliamentary election, which ultimately resulted in Orbán winning another term in power. The government claims that the law is necessary to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and protect Hungary’s sovereignty.
Allegations of foreign funding in previous election
The government’s justification for the law stems from allegations of foreign funding in the previous election. While some opposition parties have denied these allegations, the Hungarian government maintains that foreign interference in the electoral process poses a significant threat to democratic governance.
Criticism from Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has strongly criticized Hungary’s sovereignty protection law. Mijatovic has urged the Hungarian government to retract the law, stating that it poses a significant risk to human rights and should be abandoned. She argues that the law could be used to silence and stigmatize independent voices and opponents of the government.
Condemnation from Hungarian non-governmental organizations
Several Hungarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Amnesty International, Transparency International, and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, have condemned the sovereignty protection law. These organizations view the law as a political propaganda project that violates Hungary’s constitutional, international, and EU obligations. They plan to take legal action against the law and provide support to targeted civil communities, activists, and media actors.
Legal action and support for targeted groups
In response to the sovereignty protection law, legal action is being taken by NGOs and other rights organizations. They aim to challenge the law’s constitutionality and protect the rights of targeted individuals and groups. Additionally, these organizations pledge to provide support and assistance to civil communities, activists, and media actors who may face persecution under the new law.
Hungary’s Struggle with the European Union
Frozen funds and concerns over democratic backsliding
Hungary’s relationship with the European Union (EU) has been strained due to concerns over democratic backsliding and human rights violations. As a consequence, the EU has frozen billions of funds to Hungary. This move by the EU is motivated by a desire to hold Hungary accountable for its actions and ensure adherence to democratic principles.
Rights violations against LGBTQ+ community and asylum seekers
One of the key areas of concern for the EU is Hungary’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community and asylum seekers. The Hungarian government’s policies and actions have been criticized for infringing upon the rights and dignity of these marginalized groups. The EU views these violations as incompatible with its values and has taken a firm stance against them.
Request to abandon plan to release frozen funds
As part of efforts to address the issues raised by the EU, the Hungarian government made reforms to its judicial system. However, this alone has not been sufficient to convince the EU to release the frozen funds. In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the four largest political groupings in the EU’s Parliament urged the commission to abandon the plan to free up a portion of the frozen funds. They argue that the sovereignty protection law is an example of how Hungary has not changed its course and pose risks to democratic supervision.
Concerns over lack of democratic supervision
The sovereignty protection law has raised further concerns about the lack of democratic supervision over Hungary’s government. Critics argue that the law grants sweeping powers to Prime Minister Orbán without adequate checks and balances. This lack of oversight is seen as a threat to Hungary’s democratic institutions and the rule of law.
In conclusion, Hungary’s sovereignty protection law has faced significant opposition from independent media outlets, rights groups, and international organizations. Critics argue that the law is a way to silence dissent and curtail press freedom. The Hungarian government defends the law as a means to protect Hungary’s sovereignty and prevent foreign interference in its electoral process. The law has also contributed to Hungary’s strained relationship with the EU, which has frozen funds and raised concerns over democratic backsliding. As Hungary grapples with these challenges, support for targeted groups and legal action seek to safeguard democratic principles and human rights in the country.