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Hungarian civil society groups threatened by "politically-motivated" government investigations

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) considers attempts by the Hungarian Government Control Office (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal, KEHI) to control programs supported from the Norwegian NGO Fund to be part of a political attack.

In order to maintain its credibility, our organization has decided to publish the full documentation of its projects under investigation to make it available to the public. At the same time, we do not wish to cooperate with KEHI. The current investigation launched by the authority represents yet another step in the government attack against Hungarian NGOs. You can read more on this here.

Recently, KEHI called on HCLU, just like several other Hungarian NGOs, to deliver, among other documents related to the organization, the full documentation (contracts, receipts, correspondence) of its two programs financed from the Norwegian NGO Fund. Previously, government politicians made it clear that the investigation would take place because Norwegian NGO support, as they claimed, had been granted to organizations with links to left-wing parties. In such circumstances, HCLU has no doubts regarding the actual aim of the investigation, which is to threaten the remaining opposition powers and suppress the voice of civil organizations that are critical towards the government.

Maintaining that KEHI is unauthorized to conduct direct investigations, HCLU passed on its reservations regarding the legal bases of the investigation to the Office on Friday [20 June 2014]. Furthermore, as KEHI, even though declaring the principles of transparency, has so far failed to disclose the identity of the person or organization who ordered the investigation, or to tell how many persons paid from public funds are involved in it, HCLU submitted a public interest data request. It is legitimate to ask: exactly how much does this official action cost the people? By the way, one of the two HCLU projects concerned in the investigation deals with the spending of public funds. As a result of the project, the motorway investment at Sávoly that lacked any sound basis was suspended, meaning that 35 billion HUF (about 115 million Euros) of taxpayers' money was saved from misappropriation.

"We account for everything in front of the public but not in front of the government that should not be controlling anything in this regard. As a watchdog organization, we often encourage citizens to stand up for their rights. Now we are to defend ourselves against the politically motivated unlawful attacks. We consider charges related to political bias to be absurd, since we have always criticized those in power for abusing their power and committing breaches of rights. We have done this in the past and keep doing so today.” – said Stefánia Kapronczay, the Executive Director of HCLU.

All project documentations refuting the absurd charges can be accessed by the public by clicking here.

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