Seventeen Transparency International national chapters across Europe came together this week to increase the pressure on the Hungarian government in an effort to stop its intimidation of civil society.
In actions that are stifling the voice of civil society, the Government Control Office (KEHI) of Hungary inspected three non-governmental organisations that administer the civil society funding programme of the European Economic Area and Norway Grants. The government has also compiled lists of grant recipients, all organisations working on anti-corruption, human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech, as well as of members of the selection panels.
Chapters from the global anti-corruption coalition have told Ambassadors to Hungary and their own foreign ministries that they must send a clear and unequivocal message to the leadership in Budapest that every government, irrespective of political affiliation, should uphold the rights of citizens in a democracy to freely monitor and evaluate public institutions as well as office-holders.
Transparency International chapters from Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom sent letters to senior officials across Europe that said: “Civil liberties and fundamental human rights, an autonomous civil society and independent media serve as the bedrock of democratic values and a free society. Hungary, together with all other countries, has the responsibility to make sure that these values are protected and can freely flourish.”
The Norwegian government has also rejected accusations that Norway has interfered in the internal politics of Hungary. It says it only supports projects with goals in accordance with the objectives of the NGO programme of the EEA and Norway Grants and opens its call for funding to all organisations irrespective of the political leaning.
Transparency International is the global anti-corruption movement with more than 100 chapters around the world. All its member organisations, including Transparency International Hungary, are non-partisan.
Editor's note: This feature was amended on 18 June to remove a link to the core text of the letter, as national chapters customised the letter for their own contexts.
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