Some of the 47 asylum seekers aboard the German NGO search-and-rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 celebrate as they dock in the port of Catania, Italy | Photo: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO
Some of the 47 asylum seekers aboard the German NGO search-and-rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 celebrate as they dock in the port of Catania, Italy | Photo: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO

"The global assault on NGOs has reached a crisis point," human rights organization Amnesty International claims. The organisation criticizes Hungary in particular; they believe the Orban government is harassing organizations that support migrants and refugees.

Governments around the world "are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment," Amnesty International said in a new report titled "Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations." The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

"Bullying techniques and repressive regulations"

In a statement, Amnesty International said that "a startling number of countries are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work." 

According to Amnesty, this typically means "implementing ludicrous registration processes for organisations, monitoring their work, restricting their sources of resources and, in many cases, shutting them down if they don't adhere to the unreasonable requirements imposed on them." 

Laws in Hungary target pro-migrant NGOs

Amnesty International pointed to Hungary as an example of a country targetting NGOs. "In Hungary, a number of NGOs are being forced to label themselves as 'foreign funded' as the government seeks to discredit their work and turn the general public against them. Organizations failing to comply with these rules face high fines and ultimately the suspension of their activities," the organization said, adding that "[o]rganizations working in support of migrants and refugees have been purposefully targeted and their staff harassed after a new set of laws were passed in June 2018."

Attacks against those who defend the marginalised 

According to the Amnesty report, organizations that defend the rights of marginalised groups were targeted particularly often - not just in Hungary, but worldwide. Among them are NGOs promoting women's rights, LGBTI+ rights, the rights of migrants and refugees, and environmental groups. 

"No one should be criminalised for standing up for human rights. World leaders should be aiming to guarantee equality and ensure people in their countries have better working conditions, proper health care, access to education and adequate housing - not targeting those who demand them," Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said.
 

More articles