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State Audit Office Begins Examining NGOs That “Impact Public Life”

More than a month after Hungary’s parliamentary elections on April 3, the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) has begun investigating non-governmental organizations classified as “capable of impacting public life.”

An article in Szabad Európa recalls that after the European Court of Justice struck down the Hungarian law requiring NGOs to be branded as foreign-financed organizations, the government rewrote the legislation to specify non-governmental organizations “capable of impacting public life.”

Transparency International Hungary (TI) claims that the latest move by the State Audit Office is a clear sign that the Hungarian state continues to wage a harassment campaign against NGOs critical of the government.

NGOs told Szabad Európa that the letter from ÁSZ arrived in mid-May. Sándor Léderer, director of anti-corruption organization K-Monitor, said that NGOs were instructed to upload data primarily on the organization’s own internal regulations, accounting, financial management and other regulations.

Léderer cites several problems with the legislation that came into force last year, such as the fact that it is not clearly defined what “non-governmental organizations engaged in activities capable of impacting public life” means, and who it actually refers to. The only thing that the law makes clear is that it covers all associations and foundations that have a balance sheet total of at least 20 million Ft. (US $56,000) in the current year, and who it does not apply to.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) considers the law illegal, said TASZ Director Máté Szabó, which is why the group challenged it in the Constitutional Court last December. [Népszava]

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Posted in Domestic