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1ST LEAD Hungary's Orban threatens to close NGOs helping asylum-seekers By Gregor Mayer, dpa

Europe
18.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Budapest (dpa) - Hungary‘s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has threatened to close non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.

"If they do not stop their dangerous activities, we will simply expel them from the land, no matter how powerful or rich they may be," he said in the annual State of the Nation address on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Hungarian Parliament is set begin debating legislation that would impose new burdens on NGOs working with refugees and even ban them outright.

However, in order to pass the legislation the Orban government needs a two-thirds majority that it currently does not have in parliament.

A vote is not anticipated until after the April 8 parliamentary elections, in which Orban‘s Fidesz party is expected to gain seats.

According to the bills, which were published last week on the parliament website, those organizations will pay a 25-per-cent tax on all foreign funding, and their workers may be banned from entering refugee centres near the country‘s borders.

The affected organizations will also have to register themselves with the interior ministry, which may levy fines or refuse them the ability to operate legally in Hungary.

Orban emerged as the leader of the anti-immigration wing within the European Union during the 2015-16 migration crisis, when a massive wave of refugees and migrants passed through the Balkans and Hungary.

Budapest meanwhile passed restrictive laws against refugees and migrants and has refused to accept a mandatory EU quota for people granted asylum even at the cost of legal action from Brussels.

The handful of asylum seekers that Hungary allows through its border fence with Serbia each workday have to wait for their application to be processed in border camps and are not allowed passage inland.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe‘s human rights commissioner, said last week he is "alarmed" by the legislation and called on Hungary to refrain from "penalizing, stigmatizing or putting at any disadvantage whatsoever" the NGOs.

 

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