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June 19, 2018

New Report Documents Hungary's Continued Slide Towards Authoritarianism

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today released a new report documenting the Hungarian government’s ongoing efforts to undermine its judiciary, stifle civil society, and deepen ties to Russia. Hungary’s False Sense of Security comes in advance of tomorrow’s expected vote in the Hungarian parliament on the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation, a bill that would criminalize activities seeking to aid migrants and those seeking refuge from violence and persecution. The report follows a May 2018 research trip to Hungary, and draws on interviews with activists, journalists and other experts.

"Hungary is on the brink of making a major break from European and NATO values. If its parliament votes tomorrow to further attack civil society it will raise serious questions for its allies. Washington can't afford to let Hungary slide further into authoritarianism,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First, author of today’s report.

Today’s report includes recommendations on how the United States should respond to the Hungarian government’s assault on peaceful dissent, anti-corruption activism, and the rule of law, including the imposition of visa bans on corrupt officials, and financial support for civil society.

On June 5, in remarks at the Heritage Foundation, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell outlined the Trump Administration’s approach to Europe, noting that democratic norms and institutions form the foundation of transatlantic security and prosperity. July’s NATO Summit gives the United States an opportunity to state in no uncertain terms that it is concerned with the Hungarian government’s actions, and to raise bilateral security-related matters, such as the issuance of Hungarian visas and passports.

In April 2017, Human Rights First released, “No Society Without Civil Society: Orban, Putin, and Why the United States Should Resist Hungary's Attack on NGOs,” a report that detailed Prime Minister Orban's close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government’s systematic assault on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and independent media. Human Rights First has for many years recommended how the U.S. government should respond to Hungary’s assault on democratic institutions and the rule of law.

"The coming weeks will be vital for Hungary, and for its allies. It's time for the European Union and the United States to decide what to do with an increasingly unreliable partner. Anyone interested in America's national security needs to seriously worry about Hungary," added Dooley.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.