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U.S. Embassy sees NGO law as ‘a step backward’

EU

The United States is “troubled” by the law the Hungarian Parliament has passed on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which it says stigmatizes local civil society groups, the U.S. Embassy in Hungary said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“The United States is troubled by the Hungarian Parliament’s passage of legislation that unfairly burdens a targeted group of Hungarian civil society organizations, many of which focus on fighting corruption and protecting human rights and civil liberties,” the statement says.

The embassy says it believes the law will put a stigma on such organizations and make their work more difficult.

“This new law, particularly in the context of government rhetoric portraying civil society organizations receiving foreign funding as acting against the interests of society, stigmatizes local organizations and will have a chilling effect on the ability of Hungarians to organize themselves and address their concerns to the government in a democratic manner,” says the embassy.

While claiming that statements included in the text of the law are “false,” the embassy also warns that if the bill is signed into law it will be a step backward for freedom in Hungary.

“If signed into law, this legislation will constitute a step backward from the principles of freedom of association and expression embodied in NATO, the EU, and the OSCE, and from our shared commitments to supporting civil society. Statements that this legislation is based on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the United States are false,” the statement concludes.

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