On June 13th 2017 the Hungarian parliament approved the 'Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Foreign Funds' that requires non-governmental organisations (NGOs) receiving more than €24,000 in direct or indirect funding from abroad to register as "civic organisations funded from abroad". NGOs who fail to comply with this new regulation, on top of the already existing stringent transparency requirements, risk closure.
WAVE is gravely concerned about this formal restriction imposed on Hungarian civil society and about the dangerous incentive it presents to also limit civil society activities in other countries of the region. WAVE sees this as a direct attempt to endanger the survival and independence of Hungarian NGOs, that have already been facing increasing limitations and restrictions since 2014.
As an NGO-network working against gender based violence (GBV), WAVE is particularly concerned about the potential closure or restriction of Hungarian NGOs supporting women affected by GBV. One in every three women is affected by domestic violence worldwide and women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined, according to World Bank data. Many women’s (and children’s) lives are saved every year by NGOs who work against GBV by providing vital services such as advocacy, legal support, emergency accommodation, therapeutic services etc.
The Istanbul Convention, which Hungary signed in March 2014, clearly defines the responsibility of the state to fully address violence against women in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence, protect its victims and prosecute its perpetrators. Failure to do so would make the state responsible for perpetuating gender based violence. As Hungary currently provides very limited government funding for NGOs and shelters protecting women from violence, these organisations rely on funding from abroad to continue their life-saving work. WAVE therefore sees any attempt to obstruct NGOs in receiving foreign donations, as a clear violation of the Istanbul convention.
We stand in strong solidarity with our Hungarian sisters, who are protesting this new law and urge others to join their voices in this protest. We further urge the Hungarian government to fully ratify the Istanbul Convention, to demonstrate a) their commitment to the fundamental right of women to live a life free from violence and b) their recognition that NGOs fighting against GBV fulfill a vital sociopolitical role and therefore deserve to be fully funded and supported by the government.