George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) said on September 24 that it would challenge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Hungarian laws that make it a crime to help asylum-seekers and which tax the work of independent civil society groups, under the pretext of controlling migration.
“There is only one thing this legislation will stop, and that’s democracy,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “The Hungarian government has fabricated a narrative of lies to blind people to the truth: that these laws were designed to intimidate independent civil society groups, in another step towards silencing all dissent.”
According to the OSF, the law will not only affect migration, but it will also impact on people’s everyday lives. Following an amendment to the Hungarian criminal code, it will also be illegal for individuals to support asylum or residence applications.
“These measures expose a broad range of legitimate activities to the risk of criminal prosecution, including preparing and distributing information and providing legal advice on migrants’ rights, activities protected under European and international law,” commented Daniela Ikawa, the OSF’s lead lawyer on the case.
Furthermore, the Hungarian Parliament also recently adopted a law imposing a 25 per cent tax on funding for any activities and organisations that promote or positively portray migration.
The measures forced the OSF to close its regional office in Budapest earlier this year, after more than 30 years.