13 June 2014
This letter was one of 17 sent by Transparency International (TI) chapters this week in support of TI Hungary and many other civil society organisations and media organisations in Hungary facing undue interference and harassment by the Hungarian government. For more information check out http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/end_intimidation_of_hungarys_civil_society.
His Excellency Dr Tamas Magyarics, Hungarian Ambassador to Ireland
cc: Mr Eamon Gilmore TD; Mr Paschal Donohue TD; Mr Kevin Dowling
I write to you on behalf of Transparency International Ireland to highlight our concerns about Hungarian government policies aimed at restricting press and civil society freedoms in your country. More particularly, I wish to draw your attention to our concerns about reports of an officially sanctioned campaign targeted against a number of civil society organisations that are in receipt of EEA/Norway development aid. It has been alleged that this campaign has included office raids, black-listing, as well as verbal attacks against civil society organisations.
It would seem from these reports that any civil society organisation (CSO) that is prepared to criticise Hungarian government policy is now viewed as an enemy of the government. And as has been the case in the Russian Federation recently, it appears that Hungarian CSOs in receipt of funding from foreign governments are now increasingly and mistakenly perceived by the Hungarian government as a source of illicit influence over public policy.
We are anxious to see all CSOs in Hungary, including our sister-organisation Transparency International Hungary (TI Hungary), treated fairly and with equanimity by your government. TI Hungary is not part of a ‘leftist’ movement, as has been alleged by government representatives. Nor is it working to the agenda of its donors, including the Norwegian government. Instead, as a non-partisan anti-corruption organisation, it works without fear or favour, and subjects its operations and finances to both public and peer scrutiny. Its goal is to promote more accountable and effective governance in Hungary.
As a signatory to international conventions such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (esp. Articles 8 and 11), the United Nations Convention against Corruption (esp. Article 13), as well as according to the provisions of its own Fundamental Law (esp. Article VI, IX and XXXIX), Hungary has committed itself to ensure freedom of expression and information; the free and unobstructed functioning of an independent civil society; freedom and diversity of the press; and protection of personal data.
Regretfully, the Hungarian government’s recent actions betray a worrying failure to meet those international commitments. We therefore call upon the government of Hungary to uphold these standards and to bring an end to office raids, black-listing and verbal attacks aimed at civil society organisations.
We will also be calling on the government of Ireland to work with the institutions of the European Union and the government of Hungary to ensure that these international norms and guarantees are respected and the current actions aimed at Hungarian civil society and the media are brought to an immediate end.
John Devitt, Chief Executive, Transparency International Ireland